Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him… Job 13:15 (KJV)
Who has solved the dilemma of suffering? Even though we may trust God’s love and grace, many of us continue to struggle with his ways. But our quandary doesn’t seem to bother God. He knows what he’s doing, and he often allows pain without any rhyme or reason.
I think the inclusion of the Book of Job in our Bibles is a huge gift. We have the tiniest bit of insight into the back story of Job’s plight. Job is doing everything right, and still he suffers. In his suffering he questions God, the one whom he has pledged to trust even if God chooses to kill him.
The beautiful relationship between Job and God permits the questioning. God isn’t offended. He knows Job’s heart. He knows his integrity, and he knows Job means it when he says, “Though you slay me, I’ll still trust you.” Job trusts even when it doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t question his own righteousness; he doesn’t experience condemnation (except from his friends); and he determines to stay true to God. No matter what.
When Job’s religious friends come to berate his lack of faith and try to uncover his sin, Job doesn’t back down. Even his elders can’t shake that relationship with the One Job has faithfully trusted, and God commends him. The friends are a peripheral issue.
Rather than reprimand him, God turns Job’s attention to his own sovereignty by describing his wonderful works of creation that appeared at his spoken word. Even in listening, no one could have understood God’s marvelous ways. If Job (or anyone else, for that matter) couldn’t understand God’s goodness, how could he (or we) begin to understand suffering and pain?
And yet, God permits good and evil and expects us to hold steady through it all. He who sees the sparrow fall and who clothes the grass of the fields also allows his chosen ones to experience the same suffering that glorified his Son in that dark hour on the cross. God knows that not one particle of our eternal being will perish and always intends the outcome of suffering to be victory through him.
At the end of Job’s story we see his daughters more beautiful than any other girls, and he has more than ever before. Could this be a metaphor for our own painful experiences that evolve into a deeper relationship with our Father and a greater appreciation of his love that is determined to bring many sons (and daughters) to glory?
When God plows up our fields, he always intends a harvest.
Father, we all experience suffering in so many different ways. Thank you for assuring us that randomness is not part of your plan for us. Give us grace to stand, to endure, and to praise. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.