How is the suffering that Job experiences be related to the entire message of God’s Word?
First, to answer, let me try to summarize the book of Job. Then, I will relate Job’s suffering to the New Testament and to us today.
In the first two chapters of Job, we learn the key to the entire book. It is the account, which happened probably not too long after the Flood, of a habitually good man who God evaluated as righteous. However, God allows Satan to test Job to see if he will hold to his righteous behavior or reject God. Satan’s estimation of Job is, he is only serving God because he has been greatly blessed with all physical things. God allows Satan not only to take away his children and possessions, but also his health. However, in all this, Job still remains steadfast in his faith toward God. See Job 1-2.
After his suffering has begun, his three friends come and seek to “comfort” him by encouraging him to repent and confess his sins, for that is the reason for his suffering. He is suffering because he is a sinner and is only getting that which he deserves. That is their evaluation of his suffering. See Job 4:6-8, 8:1-7, 22:4-7, 11:6.
Job continues to believe in his own righteousness and continues to trust in God, although he does not understand why God has brought about such suffering. He has no idea that Satan is directly behind his suffering. See Job 6:1-13, 19:23-29.
Finally, after much debate between Job and his friends, God appears in a whirlwind and demands of Job to answer a series of questions which display the Wisdom and Power of God in His creating the material and animal worlds. God always has a purpose in creation, even in the suffering of Job. Although Job is not told the specific nature of his suffering, he is satisfied and humbles himself before God, recognizing His greatness and the dependence of Job upon God for all things, whether he understands all things or not. See Job 38-42.
Now, what did this have to do with the rest of the Bible. It helps us understand that although we seek to be righteous, sometimes we suffer. And, many times our suffering is not explained to or understood by us. Like Job, we must have faith and trust in God that he knows what He is doing in all circumstances. Also, we are helped in knowing that Jesus Himself entered into suffering, although He was sinless, so that we might eventually spend eternity with Him in glory. Therefore, we are able to put suffering in its perspective and continue to trust and serve God. See Romans 8.
By Gary Hunt