Why do you suffer? Why did Job suffer?
Job lost everything and found himself sitting on a pile of ashes, scraping his sores with shards of pottery, while his wife told him to “curse God and die.”
The Life of Job is the world’s best argument against the existence of a just God.
And we find that argument in the Bible.
“Friends” visit Job, and for thirty-four chapters they “defend God” by offering explanations for Jobs sufferings. They suggest that we “reap what we sow;” in other words, we get what we deserve, which seems to be what most people mean when they use the word, “Justice.” In philosophical circles, this is called the “Free Will Argument.”
The friends also suggest that God uses suffering to build character. Scripture clearly states, “the Lord disciplines him that he loves.”
In philosophical circles, that’s called the “Character Building Argument.”
But for thirty-four chapters, Job argues that he doesn’t suffer because of any bad choices he has made and that he doesn’t suffer because of a lack of character—at least not relative to his friends. For thirty-four chapters, it’s like he cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And yet, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”
In Chapter 38, God appears to job in a whirlwind, and questions Job about creation. Job cries out saying, “I [spoke] of things too wonderful for me… I despise myself and repent [literally ‘comfort myself’] in dust and ashes.”
But then the kicker: God’s anger is unleashed on Job’s friends. The Lord declares, “You have not spoken what is right about me as my servant Job has…” Then, he instructs Job to pray for his friends that he doesn’t give them what they deserve. The book ends with blessings for Job, but God never tells Job why he suffered.
People say, “That’s the point; that’s the correct answer: We don’t know.”
And yet we do know. It’s right there in the prologue, the first two chapters.
Job 1:1 · “There was a man… whose name was Job, and that man was blameless…”
Job didn’t suffer for any bad choices he had made or because he was worse at making choices than anyone else—actually, he suffered for all the good choices he had made, or that had been made, in Job.
Just after we read that Job was blameless, we read that God had said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, a blameless and upright man…?”
And that Satan had said to God, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
And at that, God had said to Satan, “He’s in your hand.”
We don’t seem to take that explanation seriously: perhaps we don’t believe Scripture. Perhaps we don’t like the idea that God would test us like rats to see what we will do.
Does God know what we will do and what Job will do? Absolutely.
Does Satan know what we will do and what Job will do? Evidently not.
God is not testing lab rats to see what they will do.
God is bragging on his champion.
A champion is one who defends another’s honor.
When Goliath, the champion of the Philistines, threatened Israel, God chose a shepherd boy named David to be his champion.
When my daughter was about five, she nearly assaulted another little girl who pretended to shoot me with a toy machine gun; she got in her face, “Please don’t shoot my daddy. He’s the only one we’ve got, and we love him very much.”
She was my champion— and the very best kind—a child, my child.
When my children were little, they didn’t know what I did, but they knew who “I am.”
They loved me for “no reason.” I wasn’t good for “a reason;” I was the reason that their life was good—I mean they simply adored me. And their smiling faces reflected my glory.
Satan doesn’t understand love, only fear. So, do you understand his challenge to God?
“Job loves you for a reason, which means he doesn’t love you; he uses you. There’s no such thing as Love, which means there’s no such thing as you.”
God is Love, which means there is no reason for Love, for Love is the Reason.
And that means you can’t deserve Love, deserve God, or deserve anything.
Justice does not mean that people “get what they deserve,” for people deserve nothing, which would mean there is no such thing as justice.
Justice is not “people getting what they deserve.”
Justice is “God getting what God deserves.”
Justice is not satisfied with Hell… only Heaven.
For what does God deserve? He deserves all glory, praise, and honor; He deserves the Adam, humanity, people made in his own image and likeness, reflecting his glory.
Job lost everything, fell to the ground, and worshipped, crying, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
When you worship God in the midst of your suffering, you are the glory of God, image of God, and Champion of God… You love God for no reason but love; you love in freedom.
You may think, “No one sees my suffering.” WRONG. God sees, and when you worship in suffering, it thrills him to the core. And Satan sees; it burns him like fire because it is Fire—Love, for no reason, is the Reason for all things.
We are the Champions.
Perhaps you think, “Nice… but I’m not really up for that.”
Job wasn’t either. “Can a mortal man be right before God?” he asks.
In the end, God speaks from the whirlwind, and Job says, “I see you.”
But John tells us, “No one has ever seen God… God, the only son… He has made him known.”
What did Job see? He must have seen Jesus, God’s Champion.
Satan’s challenge is never truly answered until God says, “Have you considered my servant Jesus.” On the cross Jesus felt forsaken, and yet into his Father’s hands he committed his Spirit—the Spirit that descends into the broken soil of our hearts as a seed that turns into the New Creation. God reaps what God sows. That’s Justice. Christ Jesus in us is Faith, Hope, and Love in us–God’s choice in us–as we become the body of the Perfect Champion, the Body of Christ.
You may ask, “Why does God need a champion?”
He doesn’t. It’s not a curse; it’s the blessing.
The thing we fear most now is the thing that will be revealed as the Greatest Blessing: Love for no reason—God. We all long to lose ourselves and find ourselves in Love.
To learn Love is death and resurrection.
To live Love is Life in the Kingdom of Heaven forevermore.
So why do you suffer? Maybe you are God’s champion.