Why Did Job Suffer? A Must-Read

Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason. (Job 2:3, KJV)

The Book of Job is a profound yet enigmatic scripture that often leaves us questioning: Why did Job suffer? As followers of Christ, we yearn to understand the reasons for Job’s suffering. We do so to avoid similar pitfalls, if any, and derive meaning from our troubles.

Job, portrayed as a man of unmatched virtue in the scriptures, is held in such high esteem by God that it incites an unusual conversation between God and Satan, the Accuser. Satan posits that Job’s righteousness is a product of his blessings. To refute Satan’s claim, God permits him to afflict Job by taking away his wealth and health.

Despite his sufferings, Job maintains his integrity, stating that he hadn’t committed any sin to warrant such adversity. In contrast, Job’s three friends argue that his sufferings are divine punishment for his sins. They made a grave mistake that made God angry with them—they sought to explain Job’s sufferings as God’s judgment against his sin. Sadly, a common teaching today posits that Job suffered because he lived in fear (Job 3:25). Yet, neither the Old nor the New Testament suggests that Job’s fear caused his suffering. There is no clue in the conversation between God and Satan or God’s comments about Job to suggest that his fear contributed to his suffering.

The reason for Job’s suffering is portrayed in chapters 1 and 2: Job was upright and pleasing to God. He so pleased God(even with his fear) that God bragged about him in a strange conversation with Satan. As far as we know in the scriptures, there was nothing Job did wrong to suffer; he suffered because he was righteous and pleasing to God, and Satan was displeased. The job was caught amid an ancient battle between good and evil, between God and Satan. The battle of good and evil that occurred long ago is still ongoing, but it will eventually come to an end according to the Book of Revelation.

Throughout the conversations between Job and his friends, they never talked about Satan—not even once. They also made the same mistake many continue to make today, seeking to rationalize human suffering based solely on God, ignoring Satan’s influence. In his suffering, Job also made a major error: questioning God’s integrity and wisdom in governing the universe. For Job, God made a mistake in judging him though he had not committed any sin.  Even so, God rebukes Job for his error but commends him in his suffering (Job 38:2, 42:8). I wonder if any of us can dare say we would have maintained our sanity better that Job after the devastating events that occurred in his life.

It’s inherent in human nature to seek explanations for suffering and often attribute it to divine judgment for sins (John 9:1-15, Luke 13:2). However, we should avoid jumping to conclusions without comprehensive understanding.

Moreover, like Job and his friends, many overlook the role of Satan, humanity’s adversary, when contemplating the cause of human suffering. If you doubt it, read a few articles on human suffering, and God is often at the center of the blame. Very few talk about a third party called Satan. And even fewer talk about the possibility of the consequences of our actions as creatures with the free will to choose. This implies that we, as humans, often have a biased and twisted understanding of human suffering. Like Job and his friends, we often do not have the complete picture.

Although this battle between God and Satan, good and evil, is far from over, there was a seismic shift in favor of humanity after Jesus came. For the first time, human beings were given the authority to rule over Satan, something no Old Testament saint had the privilege. Jesus said:

“Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19, KJV)

However, this authority over Satan in no way exempts Christians from trouble. However, it does exempt us from preventable Satanic attacks, which neither Job nor any Old Testament saint had the privilege of having such authority over evil spirits. 

To conclude, Job’s suffering was rooted in his righteousness, which irked Satan. Thus, the suffering of God’s children doesn’t always signify personal wrongdoing or divine punishment. It is a different story for the unsaved or sinners as they live on Earth under different conditions. Nevertheless, we should exercise caution when interpreting a believer’s suffering, particularly when we don’t know the details.

Furthermore, Satan remains active in our times, seeking opportunities to accuse us (Revelation 12:10) and still prowling around looking for victims (Job 1:7, 1 Peter 5:8). But, through Christ, we can overcome and subdue him in our lives. Moreover, it’s crucial to acknowledge that not all Christian suffering is alike. Some suffering, like Job’s righteous suffering, is inevitable and acceptable to god, while others are unnecessary and avoidable( please read this).

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