Suffering in The Book of Job and The Old Testament

Job’s story is difficult to understand since it raises many questions, answers to which a person can only find in his or her own faith in the Lord. However, many lines of this book can be instructive and useful for people in distress as it explains the causes, paths, and meaning of suffering. The Old Testament taught me to accept all the events that the Lord sends because he cares about people’s souls, even if, for this purpose, he has to cause pain.

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God is omnipotent and all-loving; hence, all his actions are aimed at ultimately defeating evil. However, God often creates suffering by allowing Satan to do harm that God turns into good eventually. I see by using the example of Job that God sends challenges to man as a way in which he cognizes himself and strengthens his faith. Job loses his children and is in pain because of an illness, and any of his acts can explain such a punishment (Arnold & Beyer, 2015). Although Eliphaz tells Job that his suffering is a punishment for his sins, I see that this statement is wrong. I can confirm this fact by the lines, “And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1: 8, King James Bible). God himself acknowledges the virtues of Job and praises him for his faith.

At the same time, suffering is not the way that God uses to teach a person. Job is devoted to God, and his faith is mature and complete; therefore, God has no lessons that Job can learn through pain. However, suffering helps Job to know himself and strengthen his faith in God. At the end of the book, Job says that now he has acquired a new way to see the Lord, which has strengthened his faith and understanding (Arnold & Beyer, 2015). Therefore, the book of Job shows that the Lord allows or creates evil since bad things serve for the development of people and good in them, and this good should fill the whole world eventually.

Moreover, the book of Job vividly demonstrates how a person should respond to the suffering that serves to strengthen his or her soul. Firstly, if I am faced with pain, I should not ask how I deserve it or feel injustice, since God knows the meaning of all his deeds, unlike people. When God challenges Job by asking his omnipotence of the creator and his strengths, Job has nothing to answer. In his words to the Lord, Job teaches us, “I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee” (Job 42:2, King James Bible). Thus, God is absolute wisdom and absolute power, and his decisions cannot be called into question.

Furthermore, a person experiencing suffering should not expect any merits and rewards from God, since serving the Lord should be the goal but not the desire to receive benefits. Therefore, people should only accept everything that the Lord sends them and exalt him for that, as Job did. He says, “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty For he maketh sore, and bindeth up he woundeth, and his hands make whole” (Job 5: 17-18, King James Bible). Thus, in the face of suffering, I will thank God for it, since the pain will benefit me.

Job’s story also taught me how I could help other people deal with their challenges. Job’s wife says that he must deny God, who does not help him to relieve pain and does not hear his prayers; however, it later turns out that her words are wrong (Arnold & Beyer, 2015). Friends also misinterpret Job’s suffering by saying that he caused them, and now God punishes him for his sins. In this way, they hurt their friend, deprived the Lord of his will to decide sinners’ fate, and destroyed the faith in his forgiveness and love.

However, one character of the story shows the right example of helping a friend in his suffering. Elihu explains to the other friends their mistake and says that no one should doubt God and interpret his will in this way (Arnold & Beyer, 2015). The words of Job’s wife and friends and all these events taught me that I could only support another person in his or her suffering and explain that the Lord sends good and evil to this person to help. I must also assure the person that the Lord did not abandon her or him, and all the prayers and deeds were seen and heard by God. I need to help my friends to accept their fate and find the strength and faith in themselves to survive any tragic events.

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In conclusion, the Old Testament and the story of Job demonstrate that suffering and evil are part of the Lord’s great purpose in creating good. The Lord sends people challenges for various reasons and different purposes, but they are all undeniable. I have learned that I must believe in the Lord under any circumstances and help other people not to lose their faith in God.

Reference

Arnold, B. T., & Beyer, B. E. (2015). Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian survey (3rd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group.

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