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It is written:
Job 38:1-Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
In Job 38-42, God shows up in Job’s life and reminds him of some lessons that he needed to learn (or perhaps “relearn” would be the better word).
First, God is good! Everything that God’s questions-the nature of the questions, the tone of the questions, the imagery of God’s manifestation as He poses the questions-serves to remind Job of this fact. Indeed, the goodness of God is witnessed every day in the Creation (Acts 14:17; cf. Matthew 5:44-45). When we go through difficult times, it will help us to reflect on God’s goodness and love as shown throughout the universe. Indeed, even the way that God manages evil and chaos-not causing such, but allowing such to exist in order to bring about further goodness-is a profound example of God’s perfect goodness.
Second, God will often show up in ways that we do not expect. Job expected God to appear to Him as an angry and vengeful God, a Judge that was ready to haul fire bolts and verdicts. Instead, God shows up as Job’s Friend, Savior, and Divine Warrior. When we deal with suffering in our lives, it is important to remind ourselves of God’s love and friendship. He will be the One that can save us, and the One that will fight for us.
Third, Job learned that just because he did not see God’s salvation at the exact moment of his suffering, did not mean that God would not triumph. Not all of our victories are meant to be achieved immediately, and God works on a timetable that is often beyond our understanding. As Geisler and Brooks point out:
“The argument against God from evil makes some arrogant assumptions. Just because evil is not destroyed right now does not mean that it never will be. The argument implies that if God hasn’t done anything as of today, then it won’t ever happen. But this assumes that the person making the argument has some inside information about the future. If we restate the argument to correct this oversight in temporal perspective, it turns out to be an argument that vindicates God. 1. If God is all-good, He will defeat evil. 2. If God is all-powerful, He can defeat evil. “3. Evil is not yet defeated. 4. Therefore, God can and will one day defeat evil. The very argument used against the existence of God turns out to be a vindication of God in the face of the problem of evil. …God isn’t finished yet. The final chapter has not been written. Apparently God would rather wrestle with our rebellious wills than to reign supreme over rocks and trees. Those who want a quicker resolution to the conflict will have to wait.” (Norman L. Geisler & Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook On Christian Evidences, 64-65 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
Fourth, Job learned that not all suffering is a result of or punishment for sin. Yes, sometimes people suffer in this life because of personal sin.
Proverbs 13:15-Good understanding gains favor, But the way of the unfaithful is hard.
Galatians 6:7-8-Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
However, just because a person is suffering does not mean that God is punishing him. Job’s three friends learned this lesson very clearly (Job 42:7-9). And even when God punishes, it is to teach us and help us learn to repent.
Isaiah 26:9-With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; For when Your judgments are in the earth, The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
Fifth, Job learned that one Day, Satan and all the forces of darkness will be overthrown. This will be a great Day of rejoicing for God and His people. That Day has already dawned with the death of Jesus on the Cross, His burial, and resurrection on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). It will be cultivated when Jesus Returns!
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10-and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
If you are not ready for that Day, then get ready today by repeating of your sins and being baptized into Christ as a believer in Jesus the Son of God (Acts 2:37-28). If you are a baptized believer who has wandered away from Christ and the church, then return today in repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).
Finally, Job teaches us even today- that there is a reason why God allows the suffering in our lives that He does. The inspired Prophet James describes this for us:
James 5:11 (ISV) -“We consider those who endured to be blessed. You have heard about Job’s endurance and have seen the purpose of the Lord—that the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:11, ISV)
That word “purpose” (end, NKJV) is very interesting:
“The word translated “end” here, telos, often with the significance of termination, consummation, etc., also designates purpose, aim, design, it’s obvious meaning here. We, in our day, and from our vantage point (James is saying), can now see the purpose and design of God’s plan in Job’s case, which was not nearly so apparent then. The over-all-lesson here indicated ought not to be lost on us today. There is “a divinity that shapes our ends,” and though, for the moment, we are unable to discern the purpose or plan which God has, we should patiently wait for the unfolding thereof, knowing that eventually he will vindicate himself and all matters will turn out for our good…That is, “the end” (design, purpose, plan) of the Lord is to show great pity and much mercy for his suffering saints. In Job’s case, the Lord exhibited the greatest pity and compassion; and, this will he also do for all who similarly endure. The phrase “full of pity” denotes the fact that God is tender-hearted; he is not unmindful of the agonies of his people, nor does he turn a deaf ear to their cries. He abounds in pity (polusplagchnos), he is filled with it. Moreover, he is “merciful,” (oiktirmon), I.e., full of compassion for those who suffer.” (Guy N. Woods, A Commentary On The Epistle Of James, 287; Nashville, TN; Gospel Advocate).
Whatever trials you are facing in this world, hold to the hand of the Savior. Surround yourself with His people-may they be a blessing to you!
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.