This is the view from 103 floors up from the SkyDeck in the Willis Tower in Chicago. 1353 feet above the concrete, hot dogs, mob history, music glory, murder capital and art haven that is Chicago. You get up this high and you can see it all. It puts the details in perspective.
The book of Job is the 1353 feet up Biblical view of suffering.
The book starts with a description of the good man Job. Blameless and upright. Blessed in family and wealth. Next the book describes a scene in Heaven. God points out to everyone around the good of his servant Job. Satan is among those listening and he begins to taunt and accuse and state that the only reason that Job loves God is because Job's life is perfect. (Please note, when you hear whispers of accusation and hate in your soul, it's not Jesus talking). So God allows Satan to test Job to prove if his faithfulness is true in the midst of suffering. And so the questions begin.
It's easy to hurt and ask and sulk when you read this section. Why? God let Satan hurt Job? Why? Deep, painful, honest questions. In perhaps one of the most beautiful sacrifices of praise in the entire Bible Job sidesteps the why question and simply worships God.
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:20
Backing up away from the moment of great grief and choosing to trust and sit in the heavenly perspective that God simply IS can help. In my moments of greatest pain the only way forward was to trust.
Most of the book of Job consists of conversations that Job has with his wife and then with four different friends who come to console and comment and frankly blame Job for his suffering.
The conversations Job has with his friends remind me that the best thing I can do for hurting friends is to sit quietly. Or bring food. Words can't even touch deep grief but sometimes quiet sitting can.
It does clearly cross out some of the common answers.
Your suffering is because of your sin. NOPE
Your suffering is because God's not powerful. NOPE
Your suffering is because God is not just, does not care. NOPE
So if the answer is not justice or punishment or apathy then what is the answer? Job gets sick of listening to his friends and goes straight to God. Which by the way is an excellent plan. When in doubt quit listening to people around you. Turn off this blog. Unplug your phone. Ask God.
God doesn't answer Job's question of Why. He turns the questions to Job. And asks, were you there when I started the earth? Were you there when I laid out wisdom? Do you keep things in check? 1300 feet up in the air isn't even close. Do you have an eternal view? Do you know the end story?
God's big answer for Job's suffering is simply I AM. That's it. God is the end answer. Someday when we are in heaven my guess is we'll see more clearly.
"We shouldn't act surprised when we don't understand what a
God who says He surpasses all understanding is doing".
God's big answer for Job's suffering is simply I AM. That's it. God is the end answer. Someday when we are in heaven my guess is we'll see more clearly. In the mean time, gratitude and trust and forgiveness and love are the tools we are given to fight suffering and to heal wounds and to move forward. The more we get stuck in the WHY conversation the deeper the chains will tie.
If you have deep water questions about pain and suffering, don't give up. Read CS Lewis. No easy answers in this book but you will see truth.
The Bible Project's Read Scripture series is a wonderful tool. Take the time to watch and learn.
Just like Job we all have a choice. Do we choose despair or do we choose Joy? Kay Warren's book Choose Joy is a gorgeous invitation to move beyond your circumstances into all that God has for you in Joy.
Tree63's version of Blessed be Your Name comes straight from the book of Job.
Mary Beth Chapman's story of finding hope after the tragic death of her daughter is inspirational. If you need a light to follow through grief you can dig through this one.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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