On Job and Suffering

I am not a theologian. The-Book-Of-Job

Job is a fascinating character on many, many levels.

His life was about 2100 years before Christ. That is to say Job lived his life without any revelation, as far as I can tell, of Christ.

And Job lived his life about 600 years before Moses. This means that Job did not have the Law  to guide him or give him direction.

So, Job lived a very close walk with God not having the law from Moses and long before Jesus came.

That is pretty amazing.

BTW – not saying that Job didn’t need Christ’s sacrifice – he did. He just lived before Christ’s sacrifice and needed it just as we all did and do.

But this is still amazing to me. And is might bring a bit more insight to Romans 1 which says God attributes are evident through nature and men are without excuse regarding God.

I would guess that God gave Job all of the wisdom that he needed to live a righteous life, but also Job had a heart that sought God.

It is pretty amazing what God said about Job in Job 1 saying he was, “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.”

Here is a second point I learned about Job from Timothy Keller. Not sure I can explain it as well as Keller despite the fact that I have lived it. The idea is that some say Christians serve God, love God because of what they get out of it. And some of that it true. I don’t want to end up in hell… so I seek God. BTW – yes I am saved by grace alone. But at one point Job lost everything, his health, his children, much of his wealth all because God tested him and Satan attacked him. So at some point you could say why serve God anymore? Everything is lost. Which is why Job’s wife says, “Why don’t you just curse God and die?”

But is the midst of losing everything Job still says, “Though He slay me yet will I serve Him.” So a Christian can lose everything that the world values, and that we all value, but Christians still know that God is still sovereign, That God is still out Creator, that Christ still died to redeem us, and even if our only consolation is heaven some day it is still right and proper for us to serve God and honor Him. We don’t serve God because He is a vending machine… even though there are things I might want or need.

So let me apply this to my circumstances. I have a chronic illness. I cannot work. I cannot live the American dream. I can’t really be prosperous. I am dependent on many, many people to stay alive and survive. I would guess that at least half of the people in the Third World live a better life than I do. I am not sure such a comparison is appropriate but I am just trying to explain my situation.

But, because I cannot get healed, or live a prosperous life, or work – which most men find their purpose in, does that mean it is pretty much useless to seek God or try and serve Him? Well I have to serve God for who He is and not because of what He gives me. At some point I have to serve God for who He is and not what I get out of it. And that is real Christianity. Satan told God that Job just serves God for what Job gets out of it. But that is a lie. And Job proved it was a lie and Job proved God right.

Yes I struggle greatly but there is no other ballgame. Jesus is the way, the light and the truth. So if I do not serve God then I will serve something false.

I hope I explained that in a way that makes it real.

Let me try this. Jesus said that He came so I would have life and have it more abundantly. I can promise you that most people look at my life and say geez… I don’t want to have to live like that. Chronic, never ending health issues… please spare me. But I am with Job… I have to be. And he was a really great man, I am not, but still, Job’s conclusion is the correct one. Though He slay me, though I have a chronic illness, though someone has cancer, though the disasters of life hit very hard, yet God is still God, He still created me, and Jesus still died for me and has a claim on my life, so against all odds, against all adversities, against all struggles, against anything that comes at me in this life, still I will serve God. And that is the very end of the matter.

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The Surprising Upsides to Suffering

I am completely humbled by this lady’s words. She gets it… far better than I do. So I am re-posting it here. There is no question in my mind that we Christians… some of us anyway (including me)… as well as many in our culture suffer this “ontological lightness” and so the distractions, the, “hollow entertainment” and the business of life keep us from the, “weighty things.” There is a purpose to my suffering… and yours. BTW – I substitute suffering for sadness because that is what identify with more.

Question-About-Suffering1

The Surprising Upside to Sadness

Catherine Morgan / May 6, 2017

Depression. Discouragement. Sorrow.

 

Too often we find ourselves here. Waves of emotions overcome when we least expect them. While I’ve learned a lot about choosing light, daring to hope, hard thanksgiving, and spiritual battle, there are lessons yet to learn.

 

The more I consider these emotions I’d rather not experience, the more I see multiple reasons that depression—yes, depression—has been a gift to me. Here are five.

  1. Sadness forces me to depend on Jesus.

I am far more aware of Christ, attentive to Christ, and thirsty for Christ when I am discouraged. Trapped in a rough patch, the psalmists’ words suddenly spring to life: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God” (Ps. 42:1). “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:26).

Only when I thirst for Jesus do I bend low to drink his living water. And so, paradoxically, in sadness I find the key to joy, which otherwise I might blithely miss.

  1. Sadness gives me humility and empathy.

Depression has a way of humbling me like nothing else, as God protects me from my own ego. It’s hard to feel you’ve arrived when you struggle to even get out of bed. In these moments I need grace like I need water, a knowledge that keeps me face-planted before the cross—a posture infinitely preferable to the kind of humiliating crash that often flows from pride.

Empathy lets me see the world from a brokenhearted perspective—it lets me borrow broken eyes. Am I compassionate? It’s only because I so deeply need mercy. How can I withhold this gift I’ve received and need more of each day? I meet homeless families, unemployed immigrants, teen moms, couples mid-divorce, suicidal folks, jilted sweethearts. Every one has the same needs, the same sinful soul, the same shy beauty of God’s image imprinted on their heart. When I see them, I see me. God redeems my sadness as he turns my eyes outward and fills me with compassion.

  1. Sadness rescues me from silliness.

As my seminary-nerd husband would say, my depression rescues me from ontological lightness. It’s easy to exchange weighty things for hollow entertainment. Unchecked, it can lead someone through 30,000 days only to face eternity with empty pockets. Isn’t this the spirit of Ecclesiastes 7:2? “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.”

Joy is not inferior to gloom—emphatically it’s not—but it’s easy in all the levity to miss the grand epic as it unfolds. Like hobbits happy in the Shire while Sauron advances, we can forget the stakes—life is short, eternity beckons, souls hang in the balance. A healthy dose of sobriety helps me see the world as it is: cursed and lost, in need of a Redeemer.

  1. Sadness prepares me for future struggle.

How often does a rootless faith blow away in adversity? A quick survey of spiritual giants indicates they have this in common: They’ve suffered. In various ways, to various degrees, they’ve driven those roots down ever-deeper into the love of God, so that when the storms of persecution or tragedy arrive, they’re prepared. They know from repeated experience where to find living water in a drought.

  1. Sadness is God’s way of strengthening me.

Jesus, who holds the galaxies together by his power, demonstrated another kind of strength as he was stricken, smitten, and afflicted. And in his mercy, he lends us a measure of his strength when we suffer. When we’re weak in ourselves, we’re strong in him.

When I fall into the pit of despair, I’ve learned to look up, to seek light, to cry out for deliverance, to long for home. It’s a struggle I may face all my life. That’s okay. God is at work, and I can trust him.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Pet. 1:6–9)

Thank you, Jesus.

Catherine Morgan is a church planter’s wife in Aurora, Colorado, and the author of Thirty Thousand Days (Christian Focus). You can read more at her blog.