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Job was a believer who seemed to live in the Patriarchal age around the same time as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He was a believer who lived right before God, and he acted as a priest in his family. (Reference; Job 1:5) However, suddenly his livestock was taken away and he even lost his family. His sadness was so great that he couldn’t express it with words. Without knowing the reason, he lost his fortune, and in addition his body was struck by a malignant tumor, and he was put in the greatest suffering. A conversation between Job and his wife is written in Job 2: 9-10. His wife says to him, “Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job 1:21 records that he fell to the ground in worship and said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” He confessed his faith that his life is in the hands of God. This is his confession of faith that his life is in the hands of loving God, who made everything.
From Job 2:11, Job’s three friends heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, and they came to comfort him. They began to weep aloud with him and they went through his pain with him. It is recorded that「Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.」(Job 2:13 NIV) I am impressed by how they went through his pain with him and how sympathetic they were. Job 3:1 says,「After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.」It was true deepest cries of his heart that he really wished he wasn’t born so that he didn’t have to go through such pain and suffering. His friends heard this cry of Job’s heart but couldn’t understand and accept his heart, and they started insisting on their own understanding. From chapters 3 to 26, the argument between Job and his friends is written. Of course, some part of their opinions contain truth. However, their understanding was based on ideas like “God will punish those who have sinned, and if Job confesses his sins, God will restore his situation. He’s going through sufferings and trials because of his own sins.” The argument continues with the understanding that Job is the cause of this suffering. The controversy of these friends does not comfort Job’s heart, but rather it makes him more distressed. James 1:19 says, 「Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,」I feel sorry for Job and wish his friends would do what this scripture says. There is no absolute understanding on suffering and pain. Jesus has pointed out the suffering caused by sin, but he has also said that this suffering and illness is due to the manifestation of God’s glory. (Reference; John 9: 1-3) It is also taught that the purpose of suffering and trials is to grow us and make us mature. (Reference; Romans 5: 3-5) It is necessary for us to see and understand sufferings and difficulties from the perspective of God.
Job’s monologue continues from chapter 27 until 31. Through these chapters, Job claims to be innocent and noble. And in chapters 32-37, his youngest friend, Elihu, who was listening to the conversation between Job and the other 2 finally opened his mouth to speak. He started having a question on Job’s attitude and his claims to be righteous, and he started saying that no one should claim to be wise since human cannot understand the work of God fully. In chapters 38-41, the Lord speaks to Job out of the storm. He asks Job if he knows the work of God’s creation and providence. God has not answered the question of Job the reason why he had to go through suffering. The same things happen in our lives. It’s ok to have a question until the day we are called to heaven. God certainly knows our suffering. He has given us help in many ways. If you are in the midst of difficulties and suffering, I would recommend you to read Psalm 37 slowly. You will see that there is a providence of God in this passage. And it also teaches us to trust in the Lord, to be still before Him, and to have an attitude of waiting upon the Lord.
In Job 42: 2-3, Job’s reply to the Lord is written.「“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.」(Job 42:2-3 NIV) The Lord is the one who can do all things. He is the one who can set you free from suffering and sickness. The Lord’s plan of love is also given to your life. Let us believe that and remember to pray in the midst of suffering, and to sing praises in the midst of joy. The Lord led Job to pray for his three friends, and then blessed his life more than ever before. The Lord can do all things and no purpose of His can be thwarted. Let us believe in this verse and live with hope in the midst of suffering.