JOB 4, 5, 6 and 7
Let’s ask the question again: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”. No-one in the Book of Job fully answers this one, but chapters 1, 2, and 42 do introduce an important purpose: to demonstrate that true believers in a Living God can be faithful to him, despite the most trying of circumstances. Job was being used as a ‘test case’, demonstrating to Satan and his demonic forces that he would remain faithful to his Lord and not reject him when the going got tough. Satan’s objective was to try to prove that Job only sided with God because goodness ‘pays’ in some sense – and if you take away all the benefits of being close to God then surely, before long, the faithful servant will hand in his notice!
Well, as we see, that doesn’t happen; Job suffers enormous losses and immense pain, but he sticks to his God like a limpet. He is real with the Almighty and tells him exactly how he feels – complaining justifiably that far less righteous men seem to experience far less suffering too; but Job never breaks faith with the Lord, no matter how bad things get. A world-class example of perseverance through trying circumstances! Notice that, for this test to be real, Job has to be kept in the dark about the discussion and decisions in the throne room of Heaven; in short, Job didn’t have a copy of the Book of Job! We, on the other hand, have the great benefit of Job’s example, as an encouragement to us to persevere at all times. Nevertheless, as we ourselves pass through the ‘fires’ of suffering, pain, despair, sorrow and bereavement, we too are often ‘in the dark’ about the reasons behind these adverse circumstances. We have to trust in the character of our loving God – as an act of faith – holding on to his love as an anchor in the storms of life; and confident that there is a greater purpose that will be revealed only at the Last Day.
Even towards the end of the book, as God reveals himself, he simply shows Job a revelation of his power, his wisdom, his justice and his compassion for the creatures of his world and the Sons of Earth. He doesn’t let Job into the secret of WHY things were allowed to get so bad – and it is those WHY questions that are usually the most frustrating and painful. Then, the test deemed to be over, God raises up his faithful servant to a more exalted position than he started from; “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away…” and sometimes the Lord gives back again. We just have to trust him and, in the words of the Apostle Peter: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7.)