Job: Clouds to Punish and Rain to Love

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Job 35-37

Purpose of Suffering

Human beings are resilient. We can put up with a great deal of suffering, as long as we know the reason for it. If we don’t know the reason, however, we can be impatient and frustrated. As Nietzsche argued, “What really raises one’s indignation against suffering is not suffering intrinsically, but the senselessness of suffering” [1]. Yet, life is full of seemingly purposeless suffering. The suffering of Job, from his perspective, seems senseless. He does not know the backroom deal between God and Satan and he is caught in the wrong belief that the righteous prosper and the wicked suffer [2].

Source of Suffering

Job may not know the purpose of his suffering, but he knows its author. Although it is fire that consumes his livestock and wind that kills his children, Job knows [3] that God is behind the natural disasters: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” [4]. Elihu pushes Job beyond seeing God as merely the cause and into seeing Him as the source of mercy in his suffering: He brings the clouds to punish people, or to water his earth and show his love” [5]. Thus, Job finds comfort, security, hope and truth in God’s sovereignty over suffering and His mercy behind it.

Trust in Suffering

Knowing that our loving and merciful God is the source of our suffering, we can be patient in our suffering as we trust Him – even if we do not understand or agree with Him. As James later wrote, “ … as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy [6]. We can endure suffering because we know that God is full of compassion and mercy – through and in our suffering.

Prayer

Lord, You are the author of mercy – whether it comes in the form of prosperity or adversity. We confess that we do not have eyes to see as you do in the midst of our suffering. Yet, because we trust You (and we long to trust You more and more every day), we will wait for Your goodness in our lives and patiently persevere in Christ. Amen.

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[1] On the Genealogy of Morals  | [2] Moreover, since Job is limited in his own time, he does not know that, through the testimony of his suffering, God is preparing a people ready to receive the righteous and innocent Messiah who would suffer greatly.  |  [3] Job 1:22 NIV (“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing”)  |  [4] Job 1:21 NIV  |  [5] Job 37:10-14 NIV  |  [6] James 5:11 NIV

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3 Comments to “Job: Clouds to Punish and Rain to Love”

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