The first two chapters of Job give us the divine perspective behind Job’s suffering, something he does not know when his suffering begins.
The Sovereignty of God
Chapter 1 gives us a dialogue between God and Satan. It immediately causes us to wrestle with the question of why God would speak with Satan at all—Satan, after all, tries to destroy God’s plans.
However, nothing can stop God’s sovereign plans. Even those who oppose Him are under His control and will work according to His purpose—even unwillingly. Satan is not God’s equal; God has power over him and allows him what power he does have on this earth.
This is mysterious to us, but we must remember God’s goodness and His sovereignty in tandem. We cannot understand this fully, but we can trust in God despite our lack of understanding. In his first instances of suffering, Job knew this. After his family and wealth were taken away from him, he worshiped God, saying, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21b).
The Warfare Continues
Chapter 2 continues to give us the divine perspective that Job does not have. Job only sees what happens to him, but the reader sees the dialogue between God and Satan.
In this chapter, Satan has returned to God because Job walked with integrity and did not sin in his suffering. He wanted Job to stumble, so he asked God’s permission to take away Job’s health. Notice that he had to ask God’s permission. Again, God is completely in control, allowing this to happen for a reason and for His good purposes.
The Cycles of Debate
Job, not having the benefit of the divine perspective, begins to struggle with his suffering as time passes. His friends, though at first helpful in sitting in silence with him, begin to seek reasons for his suffering. Their statements often contain grains of truth, but they lose sight of the perspective they ought to have.
God allows all suffering for a reason. We may not be able to see it, but we can have hope. We can trust in God’s justice and in His purposes even when we do not understand.
As Christians, we also have the benefit of the New Testament to understand suffering. We know that this life is short and often full of sorrow, but that we will have eternal life in Christ. One day, all pain and sorrow will be gone, and we will have boundless joy.
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.