First In Five-Week Series on “The Problem Of Evil and Suffering”
It’s the age-old problem that leads to perplexity and despair.
And, it’s one for which there aren’t any answers—UNLESS we approach it in simple, childlike faith and a teachable heart.
What is it—this “Question of the Ages”?
Quite simply “Why is there evil and suffering in the world?” Or, maybe we should ask instead “Where is God in all of this?”
For the next four weeks I’d like to let the Old Testament book of Job guide our thoughts on this—for, in reality, this book (the oldest in the Bible) hits the problem head-on. And, if we’ll listen with our heart, we’ll discover some wondrous truths that will sustain us in “the dark night of the soul.”
Come, then, and join me on this five-week journey as we seek to answer the question “Where is God, my Maker, Who gives songs in the night?” (Job 35:10).
Job was a “righteous man,” not a religious man, mind you—for there’s definitely a difference in the two. Even nowadays we hear more and more folks saying “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” While that sounds pretty good, you have to wonder what they mean—especially when their term “spiritual” can mean a lot of different things.
Much better is the use of the term “righteous” as seen in Job 1:1, where it says Job was “perfect (Heb. ‘tam’—‘complete, mature, upright, undefiled, etc.’) and upright and one that feared God and avoided evil.” And, when we couple this with vv.4-5 on how he prayed for his children and even offered burnt offerings in their stead in case they’d “sinned and cursed God in their hearts,” we realize his faith and practice were genuine, not a sham or pretense as so many folks’ are.
Yet, his faith and fidelity didn’t prevent him from suffering through no fault of his own. For reasons we cannot understand, Job suffered the loss of everything he had, including his 10 children, and later even developed painful boils all over his body (1:6-2:8).
Job’s initial response was quite poignant: “He arose, tore his robe and shaved his head (a sign of great grief), fell down upon the ground AND WORSHIPPED” (1:20). Then, he uttered the words that so many saints down through the centuries have also uttered through great agony of soul: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away—blessed be the Name of the Lord” (v.21).
Even when his wife encouraged him to “curse God and die” (2:9), Job still maintained his faith and integrity and replied, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? Shall we receive good at God’s Hand and not evil?” (v.10a). Then, interestingly we read “In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (v.10b).
Simply put, he didn’t blame God or start accusing Him of being unjust.
Later on we read how he struggled with all that was happening and even thought it’d been better if he’d never been born (3:1-26). His theology said “If you do good, you’ll get blessed. If you do bad, you’ll get whacked.”
Yet, he’d been doing good and still got whacked.
So, yes, in the midst of it all he was wondering where God was and why He didn’t show up and give him some answers (10:1-22; 13:1-28; 24:1-25). And, toward the end of the book God does show up and reminds him of Who He is (38:1-41:34).
Interestingly, even in the midst of his pain and perplexity, Job still “blessed the Name of the Lord” (1:21), refused to blame God (1:22) and realized God has a purpose in our difficulties in life (5:17). He knew the Lord had “granted him life and favor and preserved his spirit through it all” (10:12), which caused him to say “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (13:15a).
As we’ll see in the coming weeks, Faith must always answer the door when Doubt is knocking. And, when questions like “Where is God?” are tugging at our hearts, we must respond as Job did: “I know that My Redeemer lives and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (19:25a).
Here’s hoping you’ll tune in again next week as we continue this much-needed study on “The Problem of Evil and Suffering.” God bless you.(NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 582, Coushatta, LA 71019 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org).