Children never tire of asking why. Yet the question produces a bitter taste the older we get. Children wonder about everything; adults wonder about suffering. We notice that the world seems to run by a system of cause and effect, yet there are some effects for which we can’t find a clear cause, and some causes that don’t lead to the expected effects. We would expect Job’s wealth and family to give him a very happy life and, for a while, they did. But the loss and pain he experienced shock us. The first two chapters of his story are more than we can bear. To those so quick to ask why at the smallest misfortune, Job’s faithfulness seems incredible. But even Job had something to learn. We can learn with him.
Our age of “instant” everything has caused us to lose the ability to wait. We expect to learn patience instantly, and in our hurry, we miss the contradicción. Of all that we want now, relief from pain is at the top of our list. We want an instant cure for everything from toothaches to heartbreaks.
Although some paint have been cured, we still live in a world where many people suffer. Job was not expecting instant answers for the intense emotional and physical pain he endured. But in the end, what broke Job’s patience was not the suffering, but not knowing why he suffered.
When Job expressed his frustration, his friends were ready with their answers. They believed that the law of cause and effect applied to all people’s experiences. They view of life boiled down to this: Good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. Because of this, they role was to help Job admit to whatever sin was causing his suffering.
Job actually looked at life almost the same way as his friends. What he couldn’t understand was why he was suffering so much when he was sure he had done nothing to deserve such punishment. The last friend, Elihu, did offer another explanation for the pain by pointing out that God might be allowing it to purify Job. But this was only partly helpful. When God finally spoke, he didn’t offer Job an answer. Instead, he drove home the point that it is better to know God and than to know answers.
Often was suffer consequences for bad decisions and actions. Job’s willingness to repent and confess know wrongs is a good guideline for us. Sometime suffering shapes us for special service to others. Sometimes suffering is an attack by Satan on our lives. And sometime we don't’ know why we suffer. At those times, are we willing to trust God in spite of unanswered questions?
Strengths and accomplishments
A man of faith, patience, and endurance
Known as a generous and caring person
Weakness and mistake
Allowed his desire to understand why he was suffering to overwhelm him and make him question God
Lessons from his life
Knowing God is better than knowing answers
God is not arbitrary or uncaring
Pain is not always punishment
Occupation: Wealthy landowner and livestock owner
Relatives: Wife and first 10 children not name. Daughters from the second set of children: Jemimah, Keziah, Keren-happuch.
Contemporaries: Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu
“For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy” (James 5:10, 11).
Job’s story is told in the book of Job. He is also referred to in Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and James 5:11.
Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar
Few people in history have experienced the kind of tragedy that crushed Job. He lost everything. His children were killed, his possessions and wealth were taken, his wife turned her back on him, and his health was broken - all in a matter of days.
Upon learning of Job’s difficulties, some of his friends came to help. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were shocked when they found Job. They wept for him. They tore their clothes and put dust on their heads in acts of sorrow. Then they sat in silence with Job for seven days.
Why did his friends remain silent for so long? One ancient Jewish tradition teaches that people who come to comfort someone in mourning should not speak until the mourner speaks. That is a wise tradition, for often the best response to another person’s suffering is to say nothing.
If Job’s losses were his first test and his painful boils his second, then his friends provide a third and perhaps most frustrating test. When Job finally vented his grief, each of the friends took turns attempting to explain Job’s agony. They heard Job’s questions as arrogant claims of not deserving such suffering rather than expressions of deep grief and misunderstanding. They offered answers that only served to make Job’s go deeper. Eliphaz appealed to personal experience; Bildad pointed to universal wisdom; and Zophar declared what he felt was common sense. They all agreed that Job’s problems were his own doing and that questioning God simply made matters worse.
The harder Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar tried to explain Job’s suffering, the less they helped. Consolation turned to condemnation as the grief-stricken Job rejected their reasoning and demanded a hearing with God. When God finally did speak, he never answered Job’s questions. He simply challenged Job to trust, even beyond understanding
Friendship in grief requires patiences. Friends in need don’t have all their questions answered as much as they need to have someone. Some questions are so deep that their best response is silence. Make it a point to be with those in paint, but let your physical presence be your strongest statement of support. Pray for patience. When in doubt about a question, wait. Sit quietly and be the best friend you can be during difficult times.
Strengths and accomplishments
Understood the importance of personal contact in sharing grief
Approached Job with silence rather than immediate conversation
Demonstrated a fine understanding of God’s justice, but gross ignorance about God’s grace
Weaknesses and mistakes
Assumed that tragedy and suffering inevitable represent some kind of punishment for sin
Decided to try to explain Job’s suffering rather than help him endure it
Heard Job’s questions as challenges rather than expressions of grief
Took offense and became abusive when Job did not agree with their assessments or answers
Lessons from his life
Those who wish to comfort people in sorrow should consider silence before speech, empathy before explanation, and patience with their pain
Even the hardest questions that come out of grief do not require instant answers
Genuine friendship includes attentive, compassionate presence in times of sorrow and loss
Contemporaries: Job, Elihu
“When three of Job’s friends heard on the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite” (Job 2:11)
Job’s interaction with his three friends is found in the Old Testament book of Job.