Job 1-2 • April 19, 2023 • g1266
Pastor Taige Ronan teaches an expository message from through Job 1-2 titled, “Why Does God Allow Suffering?”
1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. 2 And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. 3 Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East. 4 And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly. 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” 8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” 9 So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. 13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house; 14 and a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 when the Sabeans raided them and took them away—indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” 16 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” 17 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” 18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!” 20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. 2:1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” 3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” 4 So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” 6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. 11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. 12 And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. 13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.
One of my favorite places to travel is Israel. I’ve been to Israel 12 times, by the way, so if you ever go to Israel with me, I know where all the bathrooms are—I’m your man, okay. Ladies, I got you, okay?
In Jerusalem there’s this museum called Yad Vashem. In Hebrew it means the place of the name. It’s the biggest Holocaust museum in the world. Every President that visits Israel, it’s mandated for them to go to see Yad Vashem, to see what the Jewish people have been through and to see what they have suffered as a nation, what they’ve suffered as a people, because it’s great. What the Nazi’s did to them—I mean, killing thirty-three percent of all the Jewish people during that time in World War II—it’s amazing. And this museum is amazing, too, just to see. They have video footage, and it’s heart wrenching for sure. But, to see the atrocities that man can do to other man. It’s amazing the mountain of suffering that you can put on someone.
We see suffering even here, in our own land. We see school shootings after school shootings, and we see suffering in our own homes. We see suffering where people may be dying around us. We’ve lost loved ones maybe recently, too. Suffering seems to be a part of our lives. I think we ask the question many times is: Why does God allow suffering? Why does God allow suffering? You know, in the past probably two months, I’ve had more hospital calls as a pastor, more home visits, and more memorials than I’ve had in probably the 28 years of ministry that I’ve been doing this. It just seems like there’s just so much suffering, so much pain, and so much hurt.
But why does God allow suffering? If He’s all-powerful and He’s all-loving then why? Why does He allow it? The skeptics have two arguments that they always try to present when it comes to God and suffering: either God’s not powerful enough to stop the suffering or God’s not loving enough to stop the suffering. You’ll just say, “Which is it?” It’s actually, neither. We’re going to see tonight some reasons why God allows suffering. Some of them you’re not going to like, by the way, but we’re going to agree together that tonight we’re going to look at someone who has gone through a lot of suffering. He is the epitome of a man who goes through suffering, and his name is Job.
If you will, let’s turn our Bibles to the book of Job. How many of you guys have read this book before? A few of us, awesome. Okay. Most everyone who’s seen this in the table of contents said, “Job! I don’t want anything about job. Why would I want to read that for,” you know, “skip that book. I’ve got enough job things to do.” It looks like “job,” but it’s really Job. Job is actually probably the oldest book in the Bible. It probably predates Genesis. Job was probably a contemporary of Abraham, maybe even a little bit sooner than that. This book was written in a place called Uz (not Oz by the way, we’ll see). It’s a place called Uz that’s probably closer to the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East area. We don’t really know who the author is as much, either. It could be Job, it could be Moses, it could be someone else—irrelevant. But this book has so many different truths in it for us, especially when it comes to suffering.
We’ve divided this study into our three sections. The first section we’re going to see, verses 1-5, God’s view of Job’s character; in the second section we’ll see Satan’s challenge of Job’s character, verses 6-11; lastly, we’ll see God’s permission for Job’s suffering, verses 12-19. Let’s look at God’s view of Job’s character, verses 1-5, in our Bibles. It says, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. 2 And seven sons and three daughters were born to him. 3 Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys,”—female donkeys are better than just male donkeys, by the way—“and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East. 4 And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For job said, ‘It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did regularly.”
We meet our main character here, and he’s an amazing man. He fears God, he’s upright, he’s blameless. He loves his children so much that he’s making sacrifices for them “just in case they sinned in their heart.” We see that he loves his family. He’s a rich man. We see that he’s got so many different livestock. We see he’s got all these camels. He was super wealthy. Having a camel back in those days was like a Land Rover SUV, okay? Those things can go anywhere, they can go all day, and he had a ton of them, right? It says that he had female donkeys, too, and we can continue. Obviously, these servant beasts you can continue making them with the female donkeys—those are like little Toyota trucks, I mean, you can use those things all day, every day. He had all of that. He had so much wealth. He was the most wealthy man in the whole area, for sure.
You see, God’s view of his character was that he was blameless, he was upright. It didn’t mean he was sinless, it just meant that he was blameless—that no one could hold blame against him. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he did fear God and he was upright and he shunned evil. So, in this first characterization of Job, we see the kind of man that he is. This is going to set the stage for us because it shows us that he’s a really good man. We’re going to see how he suffers, and we’re going to ask that question, “Man, God, here he is, he’s a good man. Why does he suffer?” And, we’ll see here together.
Let’s look at our next section here in verse 6, and our scene is going to change. We’re going to see Satan’s challenge of Job’s character. We’re going to get a glimpse of this spiritual world behind these curtains, if you will. By the way, it’s something that Job can’t see. We read this and we can see it, we’re told about it; but poor Job, he doesn’t see any of this. All he sees is what’s going to be in front of him. We get to see behind the scenes here in verse 6. It goes on, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 7 And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’”
This is interesting. So there’s a particular day where when it says, “sons of God,” it’s a Hebrew word Benai-Elohim, and it usually means angels, it means spiritual beings. It’s interesting because as we look behind this curtain we see that there’s a particular day that these angels come to present themselves to God, almost like a roll call it sounds like to me, “We’re here, God.” “Okay,” check. “Gabriel,” “Here,” you know. “Michael,” “Here,” and all the angels, “We’re here.” But then it says that also Satan, Satan has access continually here. He lost his position as Lucifer as, most likely, one of the worship angels of heaven, and now here he is, “…going to and fro on the earth,” as we’ll see here in a second.
This gives us some insight into the person of Satan as well because it says that God asked him, “From where do you come?” Notice what Satan says, “So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’” It shows us that Satan is a few things: he’s not everywhere at once, he’s not omnipotent, he’s not everywhere; he’s not omniscient, he doesn’t know everything. He can’t be here in Menifee and also in Las Vegas at the same time. You know, the Bible tells us that he spends most of his time in Revelation, accusing the saints, kind of like what we’re going to see here. We see that he has a locality—he can’t be everywhere at once—and he’s not in hell, by the way.
When I was growing up I used to think the devil was in hell kind of skewing the flames of hell and making it hotter, but he’s not there…yet. He will be, but not yet. Now he’s “…going to and fro on the earth,” seeking and looking on it. In the old King James it says he goes through the earth.
In verse 8, it goes on, “Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’” God is bragging on His child, “…there is none like him”—notice what it said—“on the earth.” Can you imagine? There’s no one like you on the whole earth—that you shun evil, that you’re that blameless, that you’re that upright on the whole earth. I mean, there’s a lot of people on the earth. There was a lot of people on the earth back then in Job’s day, too. Imagine that! God is bragging about you saying, “There’s nobody like you on the whole earth.” God sees our true hearts and our true character.
But notice the language that God said to Satan. He said, “Have you considered My servant Job.” This word “considered” in the Hebrew is kind of a cool word. It means have you militarily, tactically thought how you can find a way in through his defenses to destroy him? And so, because of that, He says, “Have you thought about that?” And, Satan is going to answer Him, but God asked, “Have you thought about a way to get in—how to break the ramparts, how to get over the wall, how to get through?” And, of course, we’re going to see Satan, “Yeah! Of course I did.”
Verse 9, he goes on, “So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him,”—Thank You, Lord—“around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ 12 And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.”
Satan is attacking Job’s character. Essentially, he’s saying, “The only reason why Job loves You and serves You is because You give him all this stuff! That’s why he loves You. No, he only likes You, God, he only serves You because You give him these things. He has all this stuff, and that’s why he serves You.” He’s challenging Job’s character, his devotion to God. I’m sure Satan is saying the same thing about us today, “Oh Yeah? Those people just love You because You blessed them.” That same challenge, I’m sure, is there. But also notice Satan’s observance of the hedge of protection that is around him. Satan goes, “Yeah I’ve considered Job. I wanted to take him out many times, are You kidding me?! There’s the hedge of protection all around him, his family, his stuff, everything! You’ve protected it all.”
It’s interesting, this word in Hebrew, this “hedge of protection.” It’s a thorny hedge of thickness, so it’s not just like a fence, “Hey, it’s got a fence. I can put my hand through it.” It would be like a thorny fence that would guard all the way around it from every side that you could not penetrate without having access to it. Satan observes that. The child of God—you, me, the child of God—we have a hedge of protection around us that protects us from the wiles of the devil, unless he has permission. In essence, God’s giving Satan permission, that God’s going to allow him to suffer? Hold onto that thought. We’ll come back to it.
We looked at Job’s character, we saw that he was blameless, upright, fears God and shuns evil. In the verses so far we see Satan’s attack on Job’s character by saying his motive is just because of his stuff, “No, he only really loves You because of that.” Let’s look at the last section, the harder section is why does God allow suffering by this permission of God for Job to suffer, and we’re not going to like this. Look at verse 13 together with me, “Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house; 14 and a messenger came to Job and said, ‘The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 when the Sabeans raided them and took them away—indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!’ 16 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!’”
Verse 17, “While he was still speaking, another also came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels”—there goes the SUVs—“and took them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!’ 18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!’” Can you imagine sitting there on your porch, drinking your lemonade, and all of the sudden you see your servants coming in staggered form each with this report? I mean, I know you’ve had a bad day, right? I know I’ve had a bad day, but does it compare to this kind of a bad day? I mean, man, can you imagine the devastation? Everything he had—the camels, the sheep, the female donkeys, all of them—gone! Servants, gone! I know you’ve had bad days, but I bet your bad days haven’t looked like this. And, just when you think your bad day couldn’t get worse, look at Job 2:1.
“Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’ 3 Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.’ 4 So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ 6 And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand,’” God didn’t use His hand, but He gave him to Satan and his hands, “‘but spare his life.’” God gives him the parameters in which he can work.
Verse 7, “So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took for himself a potsherd”—a piece of pottery—“with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!’ 10 But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”
Wow! When I read this I think, God, if I ever do anything good or say anything good, let’s please keep it to ourself, you know? I don’t want any of that business. I mean, could you imagine? Here he is, he’s lost everything, and now, again, Satan says, “Oh Yeah, God? Well, a man will give whatever he has for his life.” Satan wants to afflict him, and God gives him permission—from his head to his toe of painful boils. Man, that’s what I call suffering. You know, this poor guy is sitting in this ash heap just taking a piece of broken pottery and scraping off the painful boils that he’s been afflicted with. His wife is no help, “Just curse God and die.” Maybe the biggest curse was he had to keep the wife, that may be the hard part here in the whole story is, “I gotta keep this one? Man, God, what happened with all the other servants, and gotta keep her, too. Okay.”
Notice it says, verse 3, “And still he holds fast to his integrity.” Even after the boils he says, “Shall we indeed accept good and…not accept adversity?” I think as we read this story we still have to say, Why does God still allow it, though? Why would God allow so much suffering for those whom He loves? Have you ever asked that question? It looks even worse because God even permits the suffering to happen to Job. Earlier in Job 1:10 we saw that God had created a hedge of protection around him, so that means God has allowed access to the evil one and He has permitted him to suffer. God’s allowed him to suffer, and we notice that the devil can only work within those parameters the Lord has given him.
Let’s look at five reasons why God allows suffering. Here’s our first reason to our question, Why does God allow suffering? Suffering comes with the ability to choose. Suffering comes with the ability to choose. Satan is choosing to cause the suffering in Job’s life. This suffering is the cause of the ability to choose. For we suffer many times because of our ability to choose. Imagine no consequences for our bad decisions. You know, if there is no consequence to suffering for them, then we wouldn’t stop doing them. If there wasn’t suffering for our bad choices, then drugs aren’t bad and everything else isn’t bad. There are no consequences. There has to be consequences for our suffering. It’s part of us learning and growing. We have to have that consequence for suffering.
I’ve done some combat sports throughout my life, and I’ve done Jiu Jitsu for a while. There was one night that I got mats and set up a little dojo set up at my house. This guy had me in this ankle bar quite a few times. I kept coming out of it, and the way out you kind of pull your leg really hard to release your ankle from underneath his armpit. I did it like three times. On the fourth time, I went to pull out really hard, and the top of my leg moved, but the bottom did not. Yeah, exactly. That’s how I felt, too. It tore the inside of my calf on the top, I tore my PCL and my MCL, and blood started filling inside of my leg. But imagine if there was no consequences for that. I could keep fighting. I could keep going. I could keep rolling. But, because there’s consequences—there is suffering—I had to stop. I could barely walk, and I had to have surgery, et cetera, et cetera. But if there are no consequences, then all of the sudden your leg just gets pulled off! There has to be some sort of suffering, some sort of consequence for our sin, or we wouldn’t stop doing it. It comes with the ability to choose.
I mean, our jails would even be emptier than they are, if there were no consequences for the sins that we have, but it comes with the ability to choose. This is part of the heart of God, and this is part of love, and this why a lot of people don’t understand. The essence of love is the ability to choose. If my wife said, “You’re the only man I ever loved,” and there was no other man on earth, would that be a big deal? No, because you have no other choice. You’ve got some orangutans maybe, some apes, some monkeys, which are comparable but not quite the same. Because we have free choice, that she’s able to choose amongst six billion other people, then it makes more of a deal because there’s a choice. The heart of God is for us to love Him because we want to, not because we have to. He wants us to choose to do so, and, unfortunately, with that ability to choose, we can also choose wrong. We can also choose against God, and we see Satan choosing to harm and make Job suffer.
Satan and all the angels have the ability to choose as well, just as we continue to do today. But it’s part of who we are as people, having that ability to choose. It’s part of the essence of who God is. The bedrock of love is being able to choose, so when God created us, He wanted us to be able to choose. You know, a life without choice would be worse than a life without suffering. Satan and the angels were given this ability to choose because of their free will as we do, but Satan also made that choice to make Job suffer. Hitler made that choice to make the Jews suffer, but it comes with the ability to choose. That’s part of it. Suffering comes with that ability. God allows suffering because it’s with the ability for us to choose.
Secondly, the second reason why God allows suffering is it loosens our grip on this life. God allows suffering so we loosen our grip on this life because this suffering won’t last forever—this, too, shall pass. Whatever suffering you’re going through, people that are going through, need that you know, it won’t last forever. This suffering isn’t going to be permanent, for the most part, because at some point we get to die. We get to move on, and God moves us on. Each new pain makes this world less inviting to stay and the next life more appealing. I’ve had twelve surgeries, and the older I get (I just had a birthday on Saturday, I’m 37 once again) the more this body…I’ve worn this thing out, you know what I’m sayin? I’ve taken this thing to the limit. I’ve broken it, I’ve torn it, I’ve…over and over, I think I’ve sent more parts ahead to heaven than I have left on this body, you know?
And, maybe you’re in that same camp, too, or you’ve been through this and you’ve done this again, you’ve torn this again and again. Through every surgery it makes me want to loosen this grip on this earth. Many times God will allow that suffering so we loosen our grip on this earth because when we’re sitting here and we hold on to this earth grip, man, it stops us from moving on to where God really wants us to be. The hope of the child of God is what we have is our sins to be forgiven, but part of that is we get to move on from this world of suffering to a life without that—that’s for the child of God. For not the child of God, there’s a continued suffering, so if you don’t like suffering now, then, man, now’s the time to be a child of God. In Luke 16, it goes on to see that even after death there is still suffering for the unbeliever. There’s comfort for Lazarus, but for the rich man there was torment, there was fire, there was suffering still. So, suffering can be stopped once there is death as long as you are a child of God.
There are some reasons for suffering that we don’t know, that we won’t know until we get to heaven, but the design is for us to loosen our grip that we can see God. Job knew this and says later on in the book, Job 19:25, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,” I shall see God. Job knew that he would see God, and at the end he would be in the presence of the Redeemer. Let’s face it, good people will suffer; God’s people will suffer.
C.S. Lewis once was asked, “Why do the righteous suffer?” to which he responded, “Why not? For they are the only ones that can take it.” There is some truth to that. You know, every time that I go through some sort of suffering, I know that I have hope that it’s going to end at some point as I loosen my grip on this world. But we have this idea that good people shouldn’t suffer. We think that, God, I do something for you, and then I shouldn’t have to suffer. I think we think it’s like this trade—God, I do something good for You, I’m a good person, and I shouldn’t suffer because of that—and when things happen to come our way and we suffer, we’re like, “Man, God, what happened? I thought we had a deal? I was doing good for You—I’ve been coming to church, I’ve been giving, I’ve been doing this, I’ve been doing that—why is there suffering in my life?” Like we think it’s some sort of trade, and that’s no true. I mean, look at Job. He was righteous, upright in the whole earth, and he suffered.
Jesus said, “In this life you will have tribulations.” It’s a guarantee. It’s a promise, “You will have tribulations,” you will have suffering. Not many of us have that little promise on our refrigerator, “In this life you will have sufferings.” Thank you, John 16. Alright, thank You, Lord. Most of the time God will not remove the suffering but promise to be there in the midst of the suffering. Do you realize that? Most the time we’re praying, “God, remove this suffering. Remove this cancer. Remove this ailment that’s happening to me,” and God says, “I’m not going to remove it. I want to be there with you in it.”
When you think of the life of Daniel, did God say, “I’m going to remove the lion, Daniel. I’m getting rid of all the lions for you.” He didn’t. He said, “Daniel, I’m going to be with you with the lions, so it’s okay.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, He didn’t say, “Hey, I’m going to get rid of the fire.” He didn’t get rid of the fire, “But I’m going to be with you in the flames. I’m not going to get rid of the fire, but I’m going to be with you.” When David, as a little shepherd boy with a giant in front of him, literally a giant in front of him, God said, “I’m not going to remove the giant, I’m going to use you to take down the giant.” So often we as Christians say, “God, remove this,” when maybe God doesn’t want to remove it, but He wants to be there with you through it because He wants to teach us something, He wants to draw us close to Him, He wants to draw us closer to be who He wants us to be. Many times God will do that in our lives. They knew that after this life there was more in the next. It was more appealing than the one that we have. It loosens our grip.
Maybe you’re going through something right now, and you need to adjust your prayers that are, “God, make it go away,” to “God, let me know You’re with me through it.” When you suffer, or know someone who is, remember we aren’t meant to stay on earth forever. It should help to loosen our grip as we’re passing through.
Our third reason for why God allows suffering, it give us a chance to come along others’ sides. Our suffering allows others to come along our side. Look at Job 2:11. It says this, “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. 12 And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. 13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.”
Man, here’s Job’s friends. They start off pretty good, they don’t end up so great, but they start off pretty good. They come to comfort him. Jesus said you need to mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep. Suffering can cause us to come along others’ sides and to be a blessing to them, to support them, to support us in our suffering. Sometimes the best thing to do when someone is suffering is to do exactly what Job’s friends did and say nothing. Some people have devastating things that happen to them and cause suffering—a loss of a loved one or loss of a child or loss of something like that—and what do you say? Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing, but just to be there with them, to be present there with them because what can you give them?
I was at a hospital one time and a family delivered a stillborn baby that knew it was going to be stillborn, and I had nothing to say. What do you say when you know you’re going to deliver a baby that’s not alive? I had nothing to say except just to be there. Job’s friends had that same idea—they had nothing to say. Sometimes that’s the best thing when someone is suffering. How many times have you been suffering, and, because of that, you’re able to share with others who’ve come along your side—friends, family, doctors or nurses that come along your side—because of that suffering, it can draw people close to God.
I remember during our last Covid lockdown, our only Covid lockdown, for some reason I thought is was going to be a great idea to have spine surgery and then have my triceps reattached (which I thought was going to be brilliant, I’ll be healing for both these at the same time). Covid just started so it was going to be lockdown, and I was going to be healing from both of these. I went in for my spine surgery. I got these two nice giant rods in my back, and it was so cool because this nurse came in, and he was a medic in Iraq and he said, “Bro, I got you. I’m here to help you, and I’m going to be hanging out with you the next few days while you’re in the hospital; and I hear you’re coming back for triceps surgery,” and I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, Isaac.” “Okay, I got you.” I remember his comforting words and be able to sit there because he was hanging out with me for a while, day after day, so it seemed for me, at least, that he was there all the time. Being able to talk to him about God, of course, because people always ask me, “Wow, so what do you do?” you know, “Well, I’m a pastor.” “What? That’s so weird. You don’t look like a pastor,” I get to share. “I know! I’m like the hybrid. I’m the weird kind of guy, okay?”
The opportunities that we get to share because of our suffering. Sometimes they’re invaluable as we allow people to come along our side. It can be great. It helps us to lose sight on ourselves. It’s good for our humility because I don’t know if you’re like me, but I hate to ask for help. Anybody here hate to ask for help? Man, I hate asking for help, okay? I will just do it until I pass out, okay? And maybe you’re that same way. Sometimes God allows that suffering so people can come along our side to help us.
After coming home from the surgery, I could barely walk to the mailbox and back, so people were coming over to come take Pastor Taige for a walk around the block, like a dog—a small leash, but kind of the same. My arm is in this cast, and I’m walking. I’ve got this immobilizer, but I needed help because of that. I hate needing help, you know? I like to be my own man, “I’ll figure it out unless it kills me.” Sometimes suffering takes us to that point where we need to ask for help. We can sit and say, “God, I need for you to bring someone along my side to help,” and God does that many times. How often have you been able to minister to someone while they’re going through the same situation that you’ve gone through? Many times God will take us through a suffering situation so we can minster to others in that same suffering situation. Maybe it’s because of that, I don’t know. Job’s three friends came to see how he was. It was because of that suffering that brought them all together. They all got to hang out from their different cities to come and fellowship and hang out with Job.
Our fourth reason for why God allows suffering, it may be for a special work. God allows suffering for a special work. We remember the life of Joseph in Genesis. His life was riddled with suffering, not like Job’s suffering; but his eleven brothers kind of hated him, beat him up and threw him in the pit, sold him off to some Ishmaelites, and off to Egypt he was put. Over and over he’s in dungeon, he’s in jail, and so finally he’s able to be second to Pharaoh. He’s able to save all of his brothers and their families, and all the known world at that time, but it started out with Joseph’s life of suffering. He said something at the end to his brothers, which I think is pretty interesting. He says, “What you meant for evil, God used for good.” God meant this suffering for good. God used this suffering for a special work. God used this suffering for a special work to save all of Egypt and all of Canaan and all of the known world what God revealed to him, but it started with that suffering. God allowed that suffering for a special work. He realized that the suffering saved all of Israel to be.
In the same way, Jesus knew that His suffering was for the saving of souls and the forgiveness of our sins. Think about this, Jesus stepped out of eternity into time to be forever marked by time—Jesus is in eternity, steps out of eternity into time, to suffer and die for us and to go back into eternity. Forever in eternity future, He’ll be the only Person that’s handicapped. He’ll be the only Person that bears the marks of suffering. He’ll be the only Person when He came back and saw the disciples says, “Hey, put your finger in the hole in My hand. Put your hand in My side.” He’s the only One who bears the suffering, who shows the suffering. None of us will. All the suffering that we go through, everything that’s happened to us, we won’t bear any marks of that. Only Jesus will bear the marks of suffering. He came for one reason, it was a special work—it was to suffer and to die for us—and He will bear the marks for all of eternity for that suffering.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen The Passion of the Christ, but, man, that thing is hard. Isn’t it? I mean, when watching that in the theaters, I was with my wife, I thought, you know what, I wanted to kill people. I was so upset after. I was so like, man, the suffering. This is so wild, and it was probably even worse than what we saw, you know? But to think of that’s what He did for us. If you haven’t seen The Passion of the Christ, you should—on an empty stomach. It’s hard because of the suffering that He goes through, but we have to remember the suffering that He went through, it was for us. That special work of suffering was for us.
In Hebrews 12:2, it says it was, “…for the joy that was set before Him,” that He, “endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We were the joy that was set before Him that He suffered. After watching The Passion of the Christ, I’m like, “My little back pain doesn’t really hurt that bad after all,” you know? Sometimes it’s relative. Sometimes our suffering, our pain, is relative. Isn’t it? When we see someone else, like we read the story of Job, and we’re like, “You know, my back actually feels pretty fine. I’m okay,” or “this arm feels alright.” Sometimes it’s relative to someone else’s suffering, but nothing like the suffering of Jesus, nothing like the suffering of this special work that Jesus did—suffering for us to bear that mark for us.
Has God called you to a special suffering? Suffering for a specific purpose? Maybe, but remember when you suffer, you’re also sharing in an attribute of God. Did you know that? When you suffer, you share in an attribute of God. Jesus suffered. He knows what it’s like to suffer; so when you suffer, realize that you also are sharing in an attribute of God as God suffers. He knows our pain. He knows that feeling. It’s not very often we get to share in an attribute of God, and suffering is one of those ways that you can. When you suffer, you’re sharing an attribute of God because He suffered also. He can empathize with our pain.
This brings us to our last reason why God allows suffering. Fifthly, suffering gives us the opportunity to see God more clearly. Many times God will use our suffering to help us see Him better, to get our attention, to see Him clearly, to draw us closer. Has anyone here come to Christ because of suffering? Yes, many of us came to Christ because of suffering. Aren’t you glad that you suffered that short time to know that you have eternity with Him? You see, that suffering drew you close to Him. It helped you see God more clearly, to see what He’s done for you, and it’s going to be the same for Job, too.
I had a guy at the gym ask me just like a month ago. He goes (I had this Christian shirt on, and he knew I was a pastor), he doesn’t really talk to me a whole lot, but he comes up to me like angry, like, “Bro! Why did Job suffer so much?” Like, no, “Hello,” not “how are you?” not “Good morning,” you know, “What’re you lifting today?” nothing. “Bro! Why did Job suffer so much?” I’m like, “Well, it’s because of the end of the book, because Job sees God more clearly now, because right now Job is going to know of God, but through this experience of suffering, as we’ll see here in the end of the book in Job 42:5, we’ll turn there, we’ll see that Job now sees God.
At the end of the book, in Job 42:5, this is the end of the suffering, and this is what he learned. In Job 42:5 he’s going to see why all this suffering. He’s going to see through it—all of Satan’s antics, everything that Satan did—he sees God more clearly. Satan didn’t see this coming. He thought that he would curse God to His face, but instead he sees God’s face more clearly. He says, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.” I’ve heard of You before. I’ve heard of God, but now I see You, now I experience You, now I take You in. So much suffering can allow us to see God more clearer. You see, Job’s life, he sees God more clearer now because of everything he went through, all that suffering, now he knows God better. Before he heard of God, but now he sees Him. Suffering can draw us closer to God and see Him more clearly.
Maybe His main reason to allow suffering in our lives may be just to draw us closer to Him. You see, because God’s not called us to be happy people, He’s called us to be holy people. Many times in our holiness, it grows through the hard and painful times. That’s when we grow the most, not usually through the easy times but through the suffering. In the end of Job’s life, God’s going to give him back everything. He’s going to give him more children, more female donkeys, more camels, he has to keep the same wife—sorry, Job—but God’s going to give him everything back and more, much more. The best thing that he takes through it all is he gets to have a deeper relationship with God. He gets to see God clearer, draw closer to God. The end result of Job’s suffering was that he had the opportunity to know God more, not just to hear about Him, but to experience Him.
We have the same opportunity, too. Suffering can make you bitter or it can make you better. For many of us, we miss the opportunity, and sometimes we stop even coming to church because of the bitterness or the suffering or we have a loved one who’s going through something. We think, I’m just going to hold my attendance hostage from God, and that’s the time we need to draw closer. The strength in weakness is found not when everything is going our way, but when suffering and temptation tests our character. Suffering reveals what’s in our hearts. It’s when our life is rocked that shows what’s in it. It’s when that suffering takes grip, shakes us, shows what’s in it.
You know, about a month ago on Sunday morning, I was getting in the car. When I come to church, I have all these bags of food because I’m eating all the time, and a backpack. I’m getting in the car and I got my cup of coffee there, too. For some reason I have a really good grip on this coffee, and as I’m getting in the car, the grip’s too strong, and I pop the top and it goes headliner, all over the stuff, all over me, and as I land in the car, the first thing I do is call out for my wife, of course, “Help! I need you! I’m in the car, and I’m dripping,” you know, protein-powder coffee mocha all over everything—all over my clothes, all over the seats, everything. I noticed when I was off-balance, when I was shook, when I was rocked, I saw what was inside, and I knew what was inside but now everybody knew what was inside—it was everywhere, all over everything. I get to church and everything is doused in mocha coffee protein drink/coffee. Many times it’s when we’re rocked, when we’re shaken, that shows what’s inside. Don’t miss the opportunity to notice what’s in our heart when suffering ensues. Use the opportunity to evaluate and to see, “God, are You trying to draw me close?”
Some of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned are through suffering. His strength is made alive during those times, and Job’s heart doesn’t waver. Do you notice that? Man, Job’s heart doesn’t waver through it all. His integrity is still intact. He still stays there, right at the feet of God. And remember, God is only giving permission to Satan, and Satan is doing the affliction, so essentially God is using Satan as a pawn to help us grow more into the image of God. Satan didn’t know the outcome of Job’s response, but God knew. God knew how this was going to grow Job, and it did. Satan didn’t know, but God did, and He allowed it because God uses Satan as a pawn.
Maybe you say, “There are some sufferings that we just don’t know,” and there are some sufferings that I don’t know why, but I know why I don’t know why. There’s something that happens in your life—a small child dies or leukemia or something happens—and we ask, “Why?” There are some things we just don’t know why, and that’s okay; but I know why I don’t know why, it’s because I don’t see all the interactions that are happening behind the scene. Just like in Job’s life, he couldn’t see it; I can’t see it, either; you can’t see it, either. We don’t know all the things that are happening behind—how God is working it out—and how all these intersections and interactions are going to work out together for good. Job didn’t see that, either, until the forty-second chapter, until he goes, “Oh, wow! Now I see God more clearer.” For many of us, we won’t see it either, until maybe we get to heaven.
Let’s conclude our time in Job’s response to all this suffering. Back in Job 1:20, look at Job’s response, “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.’ 22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” What did Job do? He worshiped. All this suffering and Job worshiped. Man, that’d be a challenge for me, worship God? Not saying thankful for it, but I still know that God is in control. I still know that God is good because notice it says he doesn’t charge Him with any wrong. Look at his perspective, “I came in with nothing, and I’m going to leave with nothing. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Maybe you’ve been mad at God or maybe you’ve been suffering and wanting answers and been angry because of that, but understand this, that God’s comfort is greater than our suffering. The apostle Paul learned that. He would rather be with Christ in suffering than without Christ in good health and pleasant circumstances. He said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Whenever God allows us to be in the oven, He’s always watching the temperature, He’s always watching the gauge making sure that we don’t get burned. He always knows what’s best for us, so no matter what’s going on, no matter what’s happened, I challenge us to worship God though it. We may not know the outcome yet, but God does; and He’s worthy to put our trust in Him. He’s worthy of our worship. Amen?
Pastor Taige Ronan teaches an expository message from through Job 1-2 titled, “Why Does God Allow Suffering?”