As we read about Job wrestling with God’s goodness and sovereignty in the midst of suffering, we can draw out three applications.
1. Who Can Answer “Why”?
“Why me? Why now?” we wonder when pondering God’s purpose in our suffering. Our innate sense of justice leads us to ask questions like this. After all, we often want to assign some form of responsibility to someone.
Job found no lack of people with opinions about the cause of his suffering and about who was to blame. Job’s wife went so far as to blame God, saying, “Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9 NASB). His friends, on the other hand, chose to blame Job, arguing that his sinfulness had brought this upon him.
However, answering the question of “why” is not usually simple. Our suffering is largely a mystery. We may not understand God’s ways, but we can trust Him in what He has revealed. Our hope needs to be in who He is, not in the way our earthly circumstances turn out.
2. Giving Comfort to the Suffering
When we suffer, we need comfort. Scripture acknowledges this need. As Matthew 5:4 tells us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (NASB).
Ultimately, we find this comfort in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3–4).
Out of the comfort we receive from Christ, we can comfort others. The pain we experience is an opportunity for us to develop empathy, turning to Jesus to receive comfort in order to help and encourage others. We are wounded healers, ministering out of suffering.
3. God Tests His People
Sometimes God uses suffering to test us, deepening our faith and drawing us closer to Him through adversity. If we let Him, He will shape us in the midst of the suffering, conforming us more to the image of His Son.
Although suffering is painful, it is not ultimate. These tests can strengthen our endurance and our faith (James 1:3).
As we experience this suffering, though, we need to remember God’s perfection. God is good, and His testing of us is for our good. When we remember this, we can say along with Job, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15a NASB).
Missed a video? Ken’s Sunday morning study archives are available here, including his series on the wisdom of Proverbs.
Shaped by Suffering touches on many of the same themes as Job, focusing on 1 Peter, the “Job of the New Testament,” to help us cultivate an eternal perspective in the midst of adversity.