Suffering & God’s Compassion

Jesus Suffering lightstock_115938_xsmall_user_7997290

“You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” (James 5:11))

People can relate to the story of Job. He suffered the loss of his family and all he owned. Many people have suffered similar losses, but what of the compassion of God?

Job is a long book, and most of it focuses on Job’s suffering and questioning – Why me?! We are told in the beginning that Job was pure and upright, but then he suffered terribly at the hands of the devil while God seemingly looked on. His religious friends are not very sympathetic and do not offer much to him but to question why God would treat him so poorly if he was really that good. For Job, their “help” did not help! Sound familiar?

In the prologue, God boasts to Satan of Job’s goodness, and Satan responds, basically: “Well. Of course he honors you and is good! Look how you have blessed and protected him! Stop blessing and protecting him, and he will curse You!” So, God takes His hands off and allows Satan to do what he will to Job – everything but take Job’s life.

Most of feel us from time to time as if God has turned his back on his. For some of us, we feel that if we had any luck at all, it is only bad luck. Sometimes really good people suffer while liars and cheats and unkind people seem to prosper. It is not fair! It really isn’t.

We are never really told why God takes his blessing and protection from Job. The text seems to suggest it is just a game between God and Satan, and we are pawns in that game. It seems like a cruel joke. Even Job’s wife suggests he ought to curse God and die. There seemed to be no reason to go on and no reason to remain loyal to God…. but Job refused to curse God.

We exist in the middle of cosmic forces we do not control, between God and Satan, good and evil; ultimately, we do not control the world around us. Any of us could have been born into poverty, in impoverished or war torn lands, with disabilities or genetic defects, and many people are. We could suffer at any time some debilitating disease or condition, a catastrophic injury or financial ruin, and many people do.

I believe that the only thing we ultimately control in our lives is how we react to the circumstances we face. I am not going to get into “why bad things happen to good people”. It is just a fact of life that we endure suffering, hard times, difficulties and trials and tribulations. We all do.

If this life is all there is, it is a cruel joke indeed.

Why does James say in the verse quoted at the beginning of this piece that the outcome of Job’s ordeal shows that God is compassionate and merciful? Three things stand out to me in Job. The most obvious is that God restores everything Job lost, doubling what he had and making the end of Job’s life better than the beginning. But, there is something else. Job’s perspective changes completely after he hears God’s voice and sees God face to face. Although Job has no greater understanding about what he was going through after the encounter with God, it did not matter. The encounter with God was enough!

And maybe more significant, Job repents that he ever questioned God after coming face to face with God. We do not know exactly what Job “saw” in God, but it changed everything!

Paul tells us that “our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison….”  (2 Cor. 4:17)(NEV) I am sure Job’s suffering did not seem light or momentary, and neither does our suffering seem light or momentary when we are going through it. Consider, however, the infinite God of the universe. Even our time on earth, compared to the history that we know, is like a vapor in the wind. Compared to all eternity it is less than a vapor in the wind!

In Job, God seems distant and unapproachable, but we know there is more to the story. In Jesus, God emptied Himself, taking on the form of a man; God humbled Himself, becoming a servant; and He was perfectly obedient, even to the point of dying on the cross! (Phil. 2:5-7) Amazing! God knows exactly what we feel when we suffer, and He willingly suffered for us. We can trust a God like that.

As with Job, we need the perspective that an encounter with God gives. We need to abandon our limited understanding . We have a God we can trust because he demonstrated that He can be trusted.

This is not all there is!

Since the days of the prophets, we have been told that God will establish a new heaven and new earth and a new Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12); a Jerusalem from above (Gal. 4:26); we long for a heavenly country, a city prepared for us by God (Heb. 11:6); a city, whose architect and builder is God (Heb. 11:10); the city of the living God (Heb. 12:33); a place where the water of life is given to all who thirst (Rev. 22:17).

And God has prepared a room for you in that place!! (John 14:2-3)

Our riches do not lie on this earth; they await us when this life ends. The latter things will be greater than the first! Jesus conquered not only sin but death!

He made the way for us and invites in us through that narrow door to life eternal with Him! The compassion of God is that He has prepared a place for us.

Like Job, we need to encounter God. We need a heavenly perspective that can only be gained by encountering God. Then, we do not simply know and believe in God; we KNOW Him, and we Trust Him because we have tasted of the Living Waters! When we have encountered God, we know we do not need to understand; we know that God is all we need and all we ever needed.

Explore posts in the same categories: Christian, Faith, Suffering

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One Comment on “Suffering & God’s Compassion”

  1. Eliza Says:

    Very encouraging post.

    Even in his severe trial Job had faith in God:
    25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; 26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, 27 Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! Job 19:25-27

    Job was looking forward to the same reward as you and me. The greater revelation that God gave of Himself to Job brought him to repent in dust and ashes. That should be our response to God’s revelation of Himself to us. Like Peter when Jesus gave them a great catch of fish after they had fished all night and caught nothing (Luke 5:5-8). May our God bless us mightily.


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