TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Today’s hard question: “Why did God let Job suffer horrible things just to win a bet with Satan?” Y’all, I feel like my brain is working overtime right now with these questions. As a reminder, this series is based on the questions a now-former Christian music artist posted when he announced that he was no longer believed in God. And this is one of the questions he asked. It’s a valid one that I don’t understand either… but I’m willing to address it based on the goodness I know to be true of God.
First, you may remember that I visited the book of Job a few weeks ago and I shared that it is one of the most complicated books to me. But the first part, though there are a lot of why’s involved, is pretty straight forward. Satan has (temporarily) access to God in heaven and he will go and make accusations about us to God. So let’s be clear on this—Job wasn’t the first Satan accused, nor was he the last. In Revelation 12:10, John wrote, “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.’”
But in Job 1:6-12, we read the exchange and of concern is this fact—God was the one who brought Job to Satan’s attention. Verse 8 says, “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’” Ummmm… Why??!? What was God thinking? Was God poking the bear, so to speak? Was He inviting Satan to direct his attention to this righteous man?
As I’ve pondered this, I think we have to look at this from another angle. From a different point of view, God wasn’t necessarily pointing Job out as a possible target in some cosmic game of good vs. evil. He could have been addressing His pride in Job’s righteousness. He was legitimately proud of Job. Still, that reasoning is hard to reconcile with the all-knowing God who knew that Satan would take the bait and ask to turn Job’s life upside down.
What were God’s reasons? I honestly don’t know. For the second day, I refer readers to GotQuestions.org, and the article titled, “Was it unfair for God to allow Job to suffer over what was basically an argument between God and Satan?” The author of that article does a great job of summarizing the events that followed. So while God granted Satan permission to take everything away from Job, Satan’s hand was still limited. And God was still in control. As is always the case, God took what the enemy meant for evil and turned it to good.
But beyond that, I want to address the question itself, as much as I want to address the answer. “Why did God let Job suffer horrible things just to win a bet with Satan?” There was no bet. God doesn’t bet. He doesn’t have to. The Bible is clear! God wins! This wasn’t a power play to see who would come out on top. God will always, always win. And Satan’s days are numbered.
Still, we have to wonder — why does God let bad things happen to good people? And I think the answer is far from malicious. When we go through hard times, even when we ask, “Why me?,” the hard times always put us in a position to lean on Jesus. Think about some of the greatest testimonies you have ever heard. Very often, there’s a tremendous story of tragic loss, pain, and suffering that God used in a powerful way. It’s not His endorsement of the pain, but God will allow us to experience suffering because it’s through the pain that we can appreciate Him all the more. It’s through the pain that we can draw closer to Him.
As Pastor Rick Warren said, “God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.” While everyone wants a nice, quiet, comfortable life, those moments don’t grow us. It takes adversity to give us strength.
In one of my favorite novels, Gone With the Wind, there’s a scene after Scarlett’s father died when her neighbor compared people to wheat and buckwheat. She told Scarlett that when the storms come through, those who are made of wheat are flattened. But when buckwheat is pushed to the ground, when the storm passes, it stands back up because there is sap in the plant. That sap helps them to bend without breaking. That analogy carries over to our faith. Those without God will be flattened in the storms of life. Those with God may be beaten down, but they will rise again. The Holy Spirit allows us to experience storms, but the faith that we have in Jesus — that’s what enables us to endure.
Besides, this life is temporary. What we have waiting for us is far better. When we stand in the presence of Jesus — we are going to bask in His glory. We will no longer be concerned about earthly comforts or hardships. None of it will matter.
Our faith in Jesus is will be all that matters in the end. And certainly, Job’s experiences are a testimony to how we must entrust everything to God, no matter what. In his words, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21b)
Today, as you pray, thank God that He always works things to good. Thank Him for the opportunity to grow closer to Him through any challenges we face. Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen your faith when it’s challenged, trusting Him that through the strength of Jesus Christ, you can withstand any storm you are asked to face.
SHARING ••• Please share with others! Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. ***Unless noted otherwise, all Scripture references are from the ESV translation.