The book of Job is supposed to give the answer to the age old question of "Why is there suffering, even to the good people?". But we don't seems to find the answer even in God's response to Job. But Job got it even if we don't! The answer lies in the world-view and not in another's statements. We must understand it from the world-view. Suffering does not mean punishment. Know that God loves us enough to bring us through victoriously no matter what.The World-View According to the Book of Job:
This physical or naturally world that we see and touch is not the only thing that exists. There is the world of the spiritual. The spiritual world influences the people and events that happened in our physical world.
2. God and Devil Exist in the Spiritual World
The key entities in the spiritual world are God and the angels. One particular bad and fallen kind of angels is called the devils. They all exert influences on the physical world, the weather, the earthquakes and the lives of men.
3. God is Great Creator, Love and Just.
God, the creator all things, created the world and is the most powerful force. God's character is explained in the book of Job. We can see He is the Creator. God is also the highest authority as the other spiritual beings must present themselves before him. Devil has to get God's permission to harm Job.
We can very clearly see that God is just and He executes punishment on all the unjust and evils. We can see the love of God in the creation when he provides the environment and the unique attributes of each creation for their growth and existence.
God has 3 ways to deal with the sufferings caused by men or devils:
God prevents the disasters or the harms by evil.
This is what happened at the start of the book of Job. God did not allow the devil to harm Job's family and wealth. God prevents the harm.
God may at other time protect His people and their possessions in the midst or through the storm. We can see that in Psalm 91.
God allows and uses the suffering to develop a person. This is like any Olympic contestants going through very tough training over a long period to develop the skills, stamina and mind set to be a champion. A form of 'use' is discipline. Hebrew 12:4-11. The 'suffering' in training is part of the development process of a champion. This is the case of Job. Often, we are disciplined by the errors and sins that we committed. This is not the case for Job, as Job's friends saw it, but not as God see it as God declared Job as upright and blameless.
The devil's purpose is to destroy men and to indirectly hurt God. He is the accuser and accuses Job for manipulating God - Job worshiped God only because God gave him wealth and health. Remove the blessings and Job will curse God.
Devil uses men, in this case, the Sabeans and the Chaldeans to steal Job's live-stocks and servants. Devil also uses the weather, the wind and the fire, to destroy and kill Job's children and live-stocks.
5. Good Deeds bring Good Rewards
This is the standard case that good brings good. Chinese has a famous saying that good heart brings good compensation 好心有好报. The bible also teaches that you reap what your sow. See Law of Harvests- Sowing and Reaping.
6. Justice - Evil Deeds bring Punishments - Give Time to See it.
The inverse of point 5 is evil deeds reap punishments. This happens because we have a God that is just and He executes judgements. It is God who upholds the working of His Laws. Galatians 6:7-8 God is not mocked and a man reaps what he sows and if he sow the his flesh, he will reap destruction.
However, sufferings, as we see in point 3, could be intentional for good as training. It is not a punishment just because there is suffering. If suffering is punishment for our sins then Paul was probably the greatest sinner after he was saved because he suffered the most see 2Cor11:23-28. In fact, before Paul was saved, he was living a very good life with lots of authority as a potential religious top brass.
Usually, our sins will take some time to discovered us. Because of this delay, many think that they can get away with their evil deeds.
7. Answer - Know and Trust God no matter what
When Job encountered God, he was satisfied that he knew a great God of tremendous wonder that he limited mind could not grasp fully. He just need to put his trust on this great God of creation, love and justice.
To know God is sufficient and come what may.
He has fixed his greatest fear of loosing his wealth, health and family, the very excuse and accusation that the Devil used.
He trusted Him to execute his wise judgements.
Do we worship God as He is or is God our means for blessings like the Chinese God of Prosperity?
Our worship of God is found in our actions out of our heart for Him. As we mature in Him, we will have more of Him and less of us and our ties with our possessions. Job has a breakthrough. Do we have one? Do we say with David in Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd and I have no want. God is the answer to all my needs. Only an encounter with the true God will help us realise this.
See also Christians are Fated too - To be Like Christ In Romans 8, Paul tells us that all things, even the suffering, are meant to bring us a step closer to become like Christ - Read v28 up to v30.
Lim Liat (C) 16 July 2012
Transactional Relationship and Purpose of Life - Update 11 Sep 2014
Job and his friends had the worldview that could be easily abused by Satan. They believed the purpose of life is to live rightly before God so that they can gain blessings and avoid sufferings. Any wrong doing will bring forth punishments, The first part became Satan's accusation against Job that Job only worshipped God to get blessings. God is just a means for Job to get blessings. It was a transactional type of relationship. Job worshipped God so get God's blessings. For the second part of punishments from sins, Jobs was angry with God for his sufferings when he was so sure he did no wrongs and demanded an answer and justice.
Job's suffering could be better understood by asking the more pertinent of "What is the purpose of life?". Man was not created just for his own pleasures. Man was created to worship and enjoy God. Man can only truly worship and enjoy God when he became and mature to be like God - a transformation of rebirth achieved by Jesus Christ on the cross for man. All things, including sufferings of all forms, has but one purpose of maturing like to be like Christ Rom 8:28-30. In this process of growth, some may do it the easier way of obedience, where as some others may want to go through the more painful process of rebellion. Some are just there to help build us up and are not due to any wrong doing of our own.
Consider Job again. Job passed the painful test of choosing God because of God and not because of wanting a better and richer life. Satan was created by God with greater gifting than Job but Satan chose to rebel against God. Satan was not created with the defect of rebellion. Otherwise, God has no rights to punish Satan for his rebellion. But it was Satan own choosing though he was created in pure. Job gave God a very good ground to judge and punished Satan for his rebellion.