“…As you know we consider blessed those who have persevered.
You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen
What the Lord finally brought about.”
James 5: 10, 11 (NIV 2005)
We live in an age of “instant” everything. With microwaves and drive-through windows, we can place a meal on our tables within minutes. Cable news networks and satellites allow us to view up-to-the-minute reports on stories happening around the world. Laptops and smartphones allow us to have the internet at our fingertips almost anywhere we travel, so the answers to most questions can be found with a quick query of our favorite search engine. GPS devices allow us to find directions instantaneously. Emails and Texts allow us send messages instantly. Weather conditions can be determined by a quick search of a “Weather Radar Ap.” Medicine provides prompt relief to pain, indigestion, cold symptoms, fever, sleeplessness, etc… Even common medical problems can sometimes be “diagnosed” quickly by entering symptoms into web based medical sites.
Because of all these technetronic advances, we have become conditioned to receiving almost anything we need in an instant. As a result, we have also lost the ability to wait. Above all else, we expect an immediate cure or solution for anything that causes us pain or discomfort ~ from toothaches to heartbreaks and everything in between. However, there are some things in life that don’t have instant answers. Despite all the tremendous advances in science, technology and medicine, we still live in a world where many people suffer.
Job was a wealthy landowner and successful businessman who had a wonderful family and home. He was a man of faith and was known for his generosity and care for others. The Bible describes him as “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” He was living a very happy and fulfilling life when tragedy struck. In an instant, his ten children were swept away by a windstorm, in an instant his land, crops, livestock and servants were destroyed by raiding bandits and a lightning storm, and in an instant he lost everything he had through no fault of his own. To make matters even worse, Job was struck with painful sores all over his body.
Job experienced both extreme physical pain and gut-wrenching grief over the loss of his family and possessions. He was at a crossroads in his walk of faith. He could blame God, curse Him and give up, or he could choose to trust God for strength to carry on. Job was forced to return to the basics of his faith in God. Throughout his story a common theme emerges: Job acknowledged the sovereign authority of God, but he wanted to understand the why behind his suffering. For a period of time, he allowed his desire to understand why he was suffering to overwhelm him and make him question God.
Job didn’t expect an instant cure for his pain and suffering, but he did become frustrated over not knowing why he was suffering, expecially when he was sure he had done nothing to deserve this sort of punishment. He wanted to know the answer to the age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Even though God didn’t answer his question instantly, Job did perservere in his faith. When God, who knows everything, finally spoke to Job, He did not provide him with the answer. Instead He pointed out an important lesson: It is better to know our Heavenly Father than to know the answers to all our questions.
Sometimes suffering is shaping us for service to others. Often we face consequences of bad decisions, and we suffer through correction or discipline. And, yes, there are times when we won’t know why we are suffering. We may never know why bad things happen to good people or why innocent children have to suffer, but no matter what the reason for our pain, instead of getting caught up in wanting an instant answer to the question of “why” we are suffering, we should respond by digging our roots deeper into God. By doing so, we can weather any type of storm we may face. God is not caught off guard by any of our problems, and He can help us withstand any trial we face in life.
Trust in God and not in your circumstances and remember the important lesson from Job’s life: Knowing God is superior to knowing all the answers.