Submitted by Jan on Mon, 21/09/2015 – 20:45
Year B (2014-2015)
Bible Book: Job
Verse: 1 – 10
In the Bible story of Job, the wise and the fool both have strong ideas about suffering. Even today the wise and the fool have long debates on suffering. They still repeat the same arguments today. Only difference is that in the book of Job, he, Job, was the personalization, the face, of suffering. Today sick people and the poor are the personalization, the face, of suffering, the Jobs representing the face of suffering. The fools still have strong opinions on sickness and suffering, the Jobs of today. The wise still have strong opinions on sickness and suffering, the Jobs of today.
While reading from the book of Job, lets listen to the wise, talking about the suffering of us humans:
Job was a good man, honest, God fearing, turning away from all that is bad. That is quite an impressive CV! He was a good guy! Even God was boasting about him with the Satan!: “Did you see this man Job….” And yet Job suffered severely! And this is wisdom number one on suffering: Also the good suffer. Suffering is NOT the result of a person’s bad life. Some bad guys live a nice, comfortable life. Many good guys suffer. ALL can suffer, also the righteous. Being a good person does NOT guarantee that you will not also suffer. Suffering is NOT judgment over a bad person!
The Satan got permission to inflict suffering and sickness on Job. This is wisdom number two: Suffering has many causes. One being the Satan, who walks around like a roaring lion, ready to destroy all in his way. Ephesians 6 talks of a war with the evil spirits around us. Sometimes we ourselves make foolish decisions and pay dearly with our life. Sometimes we suffer due to other people’s foolish decisions. Then we can become even sick, or loose our possessions….. we live in a broken world, amongst broken people, our self being broken as well…and in our brokenness we are open for all kinds of suffering…
God handed Job over into the Satan’s hands to inflict suffering upon him. God allowed it! God stood back and said: Let it happen….make him sick…. Bring suffering upon him. This is tough wisdom number three on suffering: God allows it, even if He can stop or prevent it. This is tough: God allowing suffering, standing back, allowing Satan. Why? God wanted to prove to Satan that faith in Him is unconditional, notwithstanding success, wealth and health. We live in a time of consumer religion, where faith is linked to prosperity. Job defines faith differently: Faith is a commitment to God under all circumstances, in health and sickness, in wealth and poverty. Listen to Habakkuk 3 :17 “ Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines…and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut of from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls. YET I will rejoice in the Lord….” Faith is not a quick fix to suffering. Faith is walking with God through valleys of darkness, knowing He will protect and cover me. Holding tighter onto His hand, the more slippery the road becomes…. Oh, how strong the praises from the lips of a suffering person. How foolish the unanswered questions: Why, why me?
Faith in suffering is often laughed upon by the people closest to us, like Job’s wife. The worse thing about suffering is when your closest family and friends question God, question your continuous prayers and stronger growing faith: “It does not help. Why do you still believe? You don’t become better!” Job calls his wife a fool. She questioned faith in the midst of suffering. Wisdom number four on suffering: Standing strong in faith during suffering, sometimes means standing all alone. It is not a popular stand to take. If faith does not instantly bring positive results, it is rejected and laughed upon. People want quick answers. Like walking into a Pick and Pay: Walk in, pray, and walk out with what you asked…..But faith in suffering is a lifelong commitment right to the end, even if the end is unknown and not like I predicted it to be.
Prayer: Lord God make me wise in the suffering in my own life and in the life of others. Help me not to talk and pray like a fool in the face of suffering. Make me wise to get to know you better in the eye of the storm. Thank you Lord Jesus that You were the excellent example of the Suffering Servant on the cross. You hung there in full war with the Satan, all your friends have left you, it ended in your cruel painful death and you knew God allowed this, because you prayed: Let this cup pass if it is Your will….and the cup did not pass, you had to drink it all the way…. And amidst this suffering you rose up and committed your Spirit in the hands of God our Father….. The supreme wisdom in suffering…give me some of your wisdom in suffering…Amen
To think about: Why do we suffer?
How does the wise reflect on suffering?
How important is it to surround yourself with faithful people in times of suffering?
Written By: Dr Lourens Schoeman, Capacity Builder at the CMD Usizo Aids Trust, Ladysmith, KZN and trained as a ‘Churches, Channel of Hope’ Facilitator.
Author: Schoeman L (Rev)