Summary: We all want to know why we suffer.
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements--surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? Job 38:1-7 (NRSVA)
Because you have made the LORD your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot. Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation. Psalms 91:9-16 (NRSVA)
Even people who do not know the story of Job have heard of him and his patience. The story so often centers around the first chapter, and how this really good man got a raw deal, while God just looked-on and let the Devil destroy the man and his family. But it is really worth reading the next 36 chapters to watch Job’s friends first attempt to comfort Job...but eventually wind-up missing the mark on the compassion scale. They do more harm than comfort, suggesting that Job was a bad guy, and that’s why bad stuff came his way; but, in reality, Job was a good man in the midst of a really rotten circumstance!
For the first thirty-seven chapters, Job asks the angry question – God, why me? As the 38th chapter begins God finally ends his silence. Job, tell me…when I was mapping out the universe and laying the foundations upon which you now stand…just where were you? God never answered Job’s question the way Job wanted…He simply pointed out that Job didn’t have a clue, and he’d better think twice before parading his goodness in front of his Creator.
After God spoke Job cringed…it works that way! Job had to humble himself and eat a little dust. He apologized to God, and things went better for him afterward.
Now, the reality of trouble and suffering in the human family is not in question here – we all know people who suffer; we have all had our share of suffering. Job even stated the reality that we are born into having trouble as certainly as the sparks fly upward from a fire. The real question we all have is, If God is good, and God is kind…WHY do we suffer? We want to know why God thought it necessary to put us through suffering in this life.
A number of years ago I had pain in my right foot – constant pain. It was the kind of pain that made you wonder if you are descended from Job. The pain was every minute of every day; it was my companion for every step I took in a day. For good measure it throbbed all night.
Extra Strength Tylenol by the truckload didn’t help; Cortisone injections didn’t touch it a bit. Finally the doctor said the “s” word – surgery! I’m not a surgery freak, but by that time I would have allowed him to cut off both arms and do a frontal lobotomy if he said it would help.
The surgery itself was uneventful. My surgeon snipped a nerve or two, shortened a bone here, refashioned a socket there, and I went home to wait for the moment I could walk without pain. Somehow it never turns out the way the textbook pictures it. Three weeks after surgery I took my first step without the cast; the pin holding my toe together decided to relocate to a different neighborhood. The next week I was back on the operating table. This time he used titanium and super-glue! The toe has held together quite well since then.
However, during the recuperation I had to stay off my feet for several weeks, and in that sedentary lounging I managed to allow my blood to clot in all the wrong places. Silly me! When the clots broke apart (like sparks flying upward!!!) they headed directly for my lungs. Now, I’ve never been kicked in the chest by a mule, but if you have, I’d like to compare notes. The pain was incredible. Elizabeth came home from work to take the whimpering preacher to the doctor…again!