For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18
Jesus told us (John 16:33), “in the world you will have tribulation.” While suffering and tribulation shouldn’t surprise us, we often have many questions when hard times come our way. Why is there so much evil in the world? Why do good people suffer? Is there a purpose for suffering? What does the presence of evil and suffering say about God’s power and God’s love? How should Christians respond to suffering? Is it ok to question God? How can we be prepared for suffering? How should we counsel others when they are suffering?
The issue of suffering and evil is often one of the toughest issues that we wrestle with in life. The book of Job helps answer a few of our questions about suffering and evil. This Sunday, we will start through Job in a series called “When Life Gets Tough.” I didn’t have any intentions of preaching through Job this year, but 2020 has brought many unexpected difficulties for so many people. COVID-19 has brought death (over 200,000 in the US), serious illness, isolation, loss of jobs, and the list seems to go on and on. In my 20 years of ministry, I have never seen as many people who are dealing with depression and discouragement than I have seen the past few months.
Suffering is a little easier to understand when it comes as a result of someone’s poor choices or sinful actions. Proverbs 13:15 specifies “the way of the transgressors is hard.” We also know there is the law of the harvest that tells us that we often reap what we sow. I think it is normal for us to try to find some type of correlation between bad choices and bad behavior and consequences that often lead to suffering. Job’s friends (counselors) believed there had to be a correlation between Job’s sufferings and his sinfulness.
As we study Job, we realize that sometimes the innocent suffer. We struggle understanding why “bad” things sometimes happen to “good” people. We wonder why God allows such suffering. Job wondered “why?” Job asked “why?” While we won’t have all the answers to all our questions about suffering and evil, we will find several assurances from scripture. We know that God is good in all of His ways. We know that He is able to work all things for our good and His glory. We know that if He allows us to go through difficult circumstances, He has a purpose for those circumstances. We know that God loves us and will never leave or forsake us. In Christ, we have an anchor that will hold us fast as we go through the storms of life.
Please pray for our study of Job. Please pray for those who are going through hard times. We have so many of our folks who are battling cancer, struggling with death, dealing with depression, living with fear (related to COVID), trying to balance their jobs, families, children’s schooling obstacles, and so many other difficulties. We don’t want to give simplistic answers to these difficult circumstances. Instead, we want to learn some things from God’s word that will help us deal with these circumstances. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to teach us and help us to respond to our suffering way that will help us grow in Christlikeness and bring glory to God.
To God be all the glory,