Pain and Suffering?: Part 2 of 3
by John Lowe
Verse 5, has this to say about his position as a priest in his home and his love for his children: “So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.” Every day
It is apparent that Job loves and cares for his children. Those who are good will be good to their children, and will especially do all they can to see that they come to know Jesus as Savior.
On the occasion that Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned,” he is expressing his concern that they may have taken the liberty to celebrate by drinking too much and have “cursed God in their hearts.” But Job had a remedy for their sin. As soon as the celebration was over, he ordered them to examine their own consciences and repent of what they had done wrong during the feast, and to prepare themselves to worship God. He kept his authority over his children and they submitted to it, even though they were adults, with their own homes.
He was the priest of the family, and they still worshipped at his altar. Job, like Abraham, had an altar, where he offered daily sacrifices for his family, and he encouraged them to join him in worship and in prayer. Friends, I believe that nothing has greater influence with children than to see their parents reading God’s word and praying.
Job was the priest of his family. He believed it was his job to teach them about God, and to lead them in worshiping God. That would also be a good belief for us to have. Let’s not depend on pastors and Sunday school teachers to do all the teaching—instead let’s teach our family about God and Jesus, at home.
But despite his good character and his good standing, Job experienced great catastrophe and suffering. It came suddenly and it was both undeserved and unexplained.
First, Job suffered the loss of property. This is how it happened: “A messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were eating grass nearby, when the Sabeans attacked and carried them away. They killed the servants with swords, and I am the only one who escaped to tell you!” The messenger was still speaking when another messenger arrived and said, “Lightning from God fell from the sky. It burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who escaped to tell you!” The second messenger was still speaking when another messenger arrived and said, “The Babylonians sent three groups of attackers that swept down and stole your camels and killed the servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you!”
Job lost all that he had. He had 500 yokes of oxen and 500 donkeys and he lost them all at once, along with the servants who cared for them. They were taken by his neighbors, the Sabeans, and it was Satan who put the thought into their minds to do it.
He had 7000 sheep and they were killed by lightning, and the shepherds were killed at the same time. In this case, Job was told that the destruction came from heaven and that made it even more terrible, because he looked upon that as a sign of God’s displeasure with him.
He had 3000 camels, and the servants who tended them, and he lost them all at the same time when the Chaldeans drove them off and slew the servants. Perhaps Job questioned why the wicked robbers prospered while he suffered this great loss.
Second, Job suffered the tragic death of his children. His dearest and most valuable possessions were his ten children; and, to conclude the tragedy, news was brought to him that they were killed and burned in the house where they were celebrating.
This was the greatest of Job’s losses, therefore the devil kept it for the last.
The Bible tells us that—
After that, the angels came again to show themselves to the Lord, and Satan was with them again. The Lord asked Satan the same question, “What have you been doing?” And Satan answered like before, “I have been claiming the earth for myself.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “What do you think about my servant Job? He is the best man on earth. Because of you, I have ruined him for no good reason, but he continues to honor Me.” Satan’s answer was, “A man will do anything to save his own life. But if you will hurt him with a disease, he will curse you to your face.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “All right, then. Do what you want to Job, but you can not take his life.”
So Satan left the Lord’s presence. And shortly afterward Job experienced the loss of his health. The devil has done all of this for one reason, so that Job will curse God. And now he provokes him even more by smiting him with painful boils. They covered him from head to foot. They were so severe that there was no way he could position himself to get relief. As bad as his condition was, his treatment for it was nothing less than strange. Instead of applying healing salves, he took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it. He has to tend to these boils himself, because his children and servants are dead and his wife is unsympathetic toward him. He has lost all his wealth, so he can’t go to a doctor. And even his former friends have refused to lend him a hand; to dress or wipe his running sores. All that he does to his sores is to scrape them.
Finally, instead of lying down in a soft, warm bed, he sets down among the ashes; perhaps to wait to die. Job suffered the loss of his possessions and his health, and then he experienced bad counsel and advice from his wife. Here are some of the most hurtful words I have ever heard. After all, that Job had gone through his wife said, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Satan had spared her, when everything else had been taken away, for this purpose, to further trouble and tempt him.
First, she attacks his faithfulness to his religion when she asks, “Do you still have your integrity?” In other words, she is saying, “Is this a God to be still loved, and blessed, and served. She urges him to renounce his religion and curse God. She says, “Curse God and die.” She pushes for him to become independent from God and to find his own relief through suicide; to end his trouble by ending his life.
Last, of all, Job endured the frustration of sincere friends who blundered in their efforts to comfort and counsel him. Nevertheless, we should recognize that Job was fortunate in some respects.
First, his friends did come to him. And that required great effort on their part. Then they sat in silence with him for seven days. Sometimes silence is the best way to support someone who is suffering.
And when they did speak, they gave the best advice they knew how to give. Basically, they said to him, “Job, acknowledge your sinfulness. Admit your hypocrisy. Confess your secret sins.” Job’s friends were philosophers and thinkers, and they offered him the best advice they knew for the complex problems he faced. Job and his friends believed that suffering was the result of sin and that people who suffered must have sinned.
But, in the midst of his pain, Job held on to his conviction regarding his personal integrity. He was convinced that he did not deserve the suffering he was experiencing. His suffering was totally out of proportion to any sin of which he might have been guilty. We learn from the book of Job as we study it in its entirety that suffering is not always the result of sin. We also learn from the book of Job that God is often blamed for tragedies and catastrophes and hurts for which he is not responsible.
Job’s friends came to him with the suggestion that his sufferings were the unavoidable consequence of some great flaw in his character or in his beliefs or conduct that led him to commit some great sin. But, Job was patient in the sense that he held on to his sense of integrity and denied that his sufferings were due to some great sin in his life.
When suffering comes to us, we must hold on to the conviction that God is love and then that God is good. We must believe that God always acts in conformity to His good character and does the right thing.