When Suffering Seems Senseless

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Job 37:13
Full Text: Job 37; 2 Cor. 7

Purpose | 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 easily become 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, seemed senseless. He didn’t know what was happening between God and Satan and he was all caught up in the mistaken belief that the righteous prospered and the wicked suffered [2].

Source | Even though Job didn’t know the purpose of his suffering, he knew its author. When fire consumed his livestock and wind killed his children, he said: “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” [3]. His final friend to speak, Elihu, pushed Job beyond seeing God as the cause of his suffering only and into seeing Him as the source of mercy in his suffering as well: “He loads the thick cloud with moisture … Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen” [4].

Trust | Knowing that God is sovereign and, at the same time, loving and merciful, we can be patient in our suffering as we trust Him – even when we don’t understand or even agree with Him. As James wrote, “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” [5]. Thus, like Job, we can find comfort and security and hope and truth in God and His sovereign mercy.

Prayer | Lord, You are the author of mercy – whether it comes in the form of prosperity or adversity. We confess that our eyes often see wrongly in the midst of our suffering. Yet, because we trust You (and we long to trust You more and more every day), we’ll wait for your goodness and patiently persevere in Christ. Thus, even if we don’t understand you right now, let us one day look back on today and say, “Now, we see. Now, it all makes sense. Nothing was wasted. We stand in awe of the fabric of your glorious ways.” Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Nietzsche. 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 1:21  |  [4] Job 37:11, 13 ESV  |  [5] Jms. 5:11 ESV

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3 Comments to “When Suffering Seems Senseless”

  1. Hi Bethany. I hope you are well. Could you please elaborate some on your second footnote? Thank you, and God bless.

  2. Todd, Thanks for reading (as always thank you for reading)! The popular opinion in Job’s day was that extreme suffering was the result of extreme sin. Today, however, we know this cannot be true because Jesus Christ – who was sinless – experienced extreme suffering. Thus, Job – in large part (just like all the other OT writings) – pointed to Christ. Hope that makes sense. Perhaps I should’ve elaborated on that FN! :) Thanks!

    • Thanks Bethany. Sometimes I wonder if God didn’t say to Satan something along the lines of, “Have you considered inserting the book of Job into the Holy Bible?” And then allowed him to do just that. Whenever I read this book, I am left with nothing but doubts about the whole Christian story. I mean, nothing whatsoever makes any sense when this story is read in its entirety. As soon as you come up with something that works, you find a line or six that throws that theory right out the window. It seems to serve only as a foil. Anyway, thanks so much for all you do. And as always, blessings to you and yours.

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