The Truth About Suffering

Wendy Blight

Day: 11 | Plan: Suffering and Sovereignty

Today’s Reading: Job 11 

Job 11:7-8 (NIV) “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above – what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below – what can you know?”

If you’re like me, you might be wondering whether the next friend we meet will be the one to support and encourage Job during this devastating time in his life. But sadly, Job’s next friend also fails to fulfill that role.

Today we meet the third of Job’s three friends, Zophar the Naamathite. Zophar’s words to Job close the first cycle of conversations between Job and his friends. Eliphaz and Bildad offered Job few words of comfort and compassion. Sadly, Zophar was no different. In fact, his harsh and insensitive words poured more salt into Job’s wounds.

Like his two friends, Zophar also accused Job of filling his speeches with empty, idle words. He extended no mercy. Zophar alleged Job deserved more suffering than Job had received because his suffering was not proportioned to his sin. Zophar wanted God Himself to intervene and expose the true state of Job’s heart: “Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you” (Job 11:5). Can you imagine receiving such cruel words from a friend?

Zophar lived in a legalistic world, believing God ruled one way. A world where God rewards those who do good and punishes those who do evil. A world where God doesn’t allow the innocent to suffer. Sadly, we find this same philosophy in our Christian community today. It’s hurtful and biblically unsound. It places fault and blame on people without proof of guilt and fails to take into account the truths of God’s Word with regard to pain and suffering.

Then, Zophar indicts Job for failing to comprehend the majesty and greatness of God. He contends that if Job had, Job would never have questioned God. According to Zophar, we should never question God because His ways are unsearchable. His wisdom incomprehensible. So, how could Job be so arrogant as to oppose God’s actions toward him?

Though peppered with truth, Zophar’s words regarding God’s nature and character are not the full truth. Be encouraged by a few valuable truths Zophar left out. 

God welcomes our questions. After all, He already knows what is on our hearts. He promises that when we seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13) And though we may never fully know God, He reveals much of His nature and character through His written Word and through Jesus. It’s in His nature and character we find truths and promises we can cling to during our most difficult trials. We need only pray and ask. He will reveal as much as we need to know. (John 16:12-15)

Zophar lacked perspective. He lived in a legalistic world that allowed for no gray areas. Thankfully, God’s written Word gives us a greater, more comprehensive perspective. In Job 1, we get a rare glimpse into a heavenly conference between God and Satan. If we were in a court of law, Job would have been God’s “Exhibit A,” His key piece of evidence to prove His children will trust Him even when they don’t understand the trials and suffering they endure. God had a purpose for Job’s suffering, and it had nothing to do with Job’s actions. Zophar lacked context, and it colored his judgment of Job’s situation.

Beyond Job 1 and 2, we have the full counsel of God’s Word. From Genesis to Revelation, God reveals specific reasons for suffering and the purposes, benefits and blessings waiting on the other side. Join me in More Moments for other truths and promises about suffering from God’s Word.

Prayer: Father, I don’t understand my suffering. I don’t like it. I want You to take it away. Some days I feel I will barely survive it. I want to trust You. I know only You can heal my deepest hurts and bring light to my darkest days. Meet me here today. Do as You promise and as You are able. Minister to my heart. Give me a fresh perspective. Renew my soul. I am waiting. In Jesus’ name, amen.

More Moments:

Let’s close our time together with more of God’s truth about suffering. May these... Read More

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