Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Theology of Suffering from Job

The theology of the book of Job is not far off from the theme in questioning faith and trust in a sovereign God. It is in the theology of Job’s suffering that he does question God, accusing Him of doing wrong to Job (Job 19:6-7). Job is seen to be really struggling as he is questioning God, but he also comes across knowing that it is actually his enemy who is causing him suffering, which he knows is not God. Job’s struggle comes apparent as at times he expresses that he feels God is so close to him that he feels like he cannot even swallow his spit and then at other times he feels as if God is so far away that he is nowhere to be found (Job 7:19; 9:11).

From the beginning of the book of Job it is evident that the reason behind human suffering many times remains hidden. Through the examination of the life of Job, his sufferings were due to Satan accusations on him, but from the reading of Job it is never made evident that Job learned or knew of this. This is the reason it is not always accurate for one to assume that their suffering necessarily comes directly from sin in their life, as Job’s friends thought was the case in his situation (Job 21:34) Although God is a good God and concerned for His people, He does not always provide answers to all of the questions that man asks. Even in Job’s understandable questioning of God, God proves to be good, as He did not hold Job’s questioning against him, but instead chose to call them “right” (Job 42:7). As a whole the book of Job shows that complete understanding of God allowing events to take place in ones life, whether blessing or suffering, is not necessary to have faith in God and trust in His providential love.

As can be clearly seen in the book of Job, there is a clear purpose of suffering, theme of suffering, and theology of suffering. The clear purpose is that all people universally suffer and what is examined is why God allows his followers to suffer and to what extent is God the one implementing the suffering. According to Daniel Akins “A Theology for the Church”, there are six themes in regards to suffering. God created a particular world (Gen. 2:17), there was creaturely rebellion (Rom. 8:20), there is divine justice and discipline (Gen.6-8), there is spiritual maturity (2 Cor. 12:7), there is redemption and eschatology (Gen. 37,39), and mystery.

Through the life of Job it is evident that he is living in a world created by God, nothing that happens surprises God because this world is His creation. Creaturely rebellion is something that no man can deny, Job included. There is divine justice and discipline that one experiences, but is not necessarily always revealed as such. There was spiritual maturity on the part of Job as he moved from asking “why” to “who” was causing the suffering. There is redemption as Job had experienced and then there is the mystery of why God continues to allow His people to suffer. Job, if anyone, had the right to question why God was allowing such terrible things to happen to him, but he serves as an example to spiritual warfare that people can and will suffer even when they are righteous in the sight of God. The important aspect to remember is that ones suffering will be temporary, as eternity will be spent with God, where there will be no pain or suffering.

Job did not fully understand his suffering. He knew he was suffering at the hands of his “enemy”, which he knew was not God, but he did question why God would allow such suffering to continue. Job, although questioning for a time, stayed faithful to God as his hope and redemption for eternity.

1 comment:

  1. Book reco....Great teaching on Job in 'To Heal A Fractured World' by Jonathan Sachs