When Your Life Derails: Suffering
Have you suffered, emotionally, even physically? Was it hard? What was it like? Definition of suffer: experience or be subjected to (something bad or unpleasant). I am sure we all suffer at times. We go through ups and downs. Hurts and pains. You lose a friend. You get in a car crash. You get cancer. The list goes on. Thoughts rumble through your head: why, why do bad things happen, how could God do this to me, does He not love me? I am about to tell you a story of a guy that made history because he suffered. This is a true story and comes from God’s word. I’m sure you have heard of him, his name was Job.
Job’s life started out great. He had a very large family, an incredible house, regular feasts, lots of wealth, gave sacrifices to God and feared Him the most. Everything was going great. Until one day:
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘From where have you come?’ Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’ Then Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for no reason? Have You not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face.’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” Job 1:6-12
In these verses God allowed Satan to test Job and his trust in God. Realize that God did not sin at allowing Satan to mess with Jobs life (James 1:13-14). Later on in chapter one and two Satan takes Jobs property and children. Let alone in the agony of losing his family he also contracts a disease: boils. Charles Swindoll illustrates some of the intensity that Job went through in his health:
· Inflamed, ulcerous sores (Job 2:7)
· Persistent itching (Job 2:8)
· Degenerative changes in facial skin, disfiguration (Job 2:12)
· Loss of appetite (Job 3:24)
· Fears and depression (Job 3:25)
· Purulent sores that burst open, scab over, crack, and ooze with pus (Job 7:5)
· Worms that form in the sores themselves (Job 7:5)
· Difficulty in breathing (Job 9:18)
· A darkening of the eyelid (Job 16:16)
· Foul breath (Job 19:17)
· Loss of weight (Job 19:20; 33:21)
· Excruciating, continual pain (Job 30:27)
· High fever with chills and discoloring of skin as well as anxiety and diarrhea (Job 30:30)
His life was spun upside down. Amongst his suffering and pain he still hoped in God “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15). As I question Job’s suffering I do see that he questioned “where then is my hope” in his response to his friends (Job 17:15-16). The verses here seem a little bit contradictable, that’s alright. I’m sure Job had his up and downs in trusting God. I just wanted to point out here, that not all scripture is clear.
Let’s recap here. So Job has lost his children, his wife has turned away from God, he’s contracted a disease, and with all that happening his friends are being highly unsupportive. This is not a life you want!
Let’s get back to the big question: what did I do against God, why do bad things happen to me, isn’t God being unfair? Let’s brake down some of these questions! But before I continue, let’s make this clear. It’s not wrong or a sin that some of these questions are going through your head. It’s what you do with those questions. All of these feelings and questions that rumble through your mind will make you or brake you. As John Piper says, “Are you listening to yourself or preaching to yourself?” Now that we got that out of the way lets break it down.
Why, why do bad things happen in my life? We are always so quick to slam God when things don’t go as planned. On therebelution.com I read an article that talks about this question: Why do Bad Things Happen? The author that wrote it said, we always think of God as human. And when God does something that hurts us we are quick to get mad. Because when a human hurts us they usually mean it out of hate or revenge. But God means it out of love (1 John 4:8). It’s hard to understand this and we will never understand this concept perfectly. But we know God can be glorified when we rejoice in our pain and suffering.
Another point made is that God understands the future and truly knows what’s best for us. God is perfect, just, and sovereign in all things!
“The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4
Don’t forget, He has such a deep love for you. When you’re in misery and it’s hard. Remind yourself the most beautiful thing that can ever happen in the universe: God’s love for you!
Later, in the book of Job, God reveals his power and sovereignty through a conversation with Job, what I think is one of the most mind numbing conversation’s ever. It’s found in chapters 38-42. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:4). God goes on and on, about how He is ultimate not man. It’s about God! He is our Creator; He is to be worshiped and glorified! Suffering won’t last forever (1 Peter 5:10).
When the pains tough, when you’re hurt is roaring, press on! For Christ is superior. We won’t find any other true satisfaction besides Christ. It won’t make sense, it’s going to be hard, but realize He is ultimate! In the Gospel Transformation Bible, I find the notes in Job (chapter 36: 1-17) state it well, “in the kingdom of God, what seems a bad circumstance is ultimately good. The supreme instance of this is the death of Christ on Good Friday, through which an apparent catastrophe became the means by which the sin of the world was taken away (John 1:29)”.