Does Job Say Suffering Is Unexplainable?
Some may misunderstand or stop seeking God if He is declared to be unintelligible. Job 2:10 hints of things to come in the story: “shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Not even God can create and guarantee life without death, violence, suffering, and struggle and yet there be free will necessary for genuine relationships and intimacy to exist. God surely can’t be blamed for suffering when Satan or humans inflict harm on others, but who doesn’t wish God would wave a magic wand over all this mess. What could possibly be God’s reason for not doing so? Freedom has caused a complicated world both for us and God.
God rejected Job’s friends’ assumption that suffering is evidence of sin and God’s displeasure. Is cancer because of sin in one’s life? Please! God also rejected Job’s assumption that the wicked are judged or the righteous rewarded immediately: “…Why should I not be impatient…Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days” (21:4, 24:1)? God didn’t question Job’s righteousness. One understands Job’s distraught with so much suffering, but Job had to wonder if God had lost control by allowing him to suffer so much undeservingly. Job heard God voice and was satisfied he wasn’t forgotten (42:1-6).
God defended Himself to Job: “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself” (40:8)? God’s justice doesn’t means the righteous never suffer here on earth, though one day the righteous will be rewarded and the unjust will be judged. God doesn’t loss control by not being a Controller. God may know a thing or two about how to run a free world that has chosen to rebel again their Creator. God doesn’t give Job a tongue lashing for trying to understand Him, but suffering in the world doesn’t make God unjust or uncaring.
Avoid following in Job’s friends footsteps by telling someone since they aren’t perfect in God’s eyes, they deserve to suffer. Where is that in the Bible? Don’t say: “God has hand-picked you to give Him glory.” God is not the originator of our suffering and responsible for the evil choices of others. Much of suffering, whether self-inflicted or inflicted by others, comes through personal evil choices. Evil originates out of the hearts of men and women. God also doesn’t cause natural disasters, diseases, or accidents that lead to so much suffering. But, how satisfied are we if God intervenes with one natural disaster than all disasters? It is a complicated world.
Can God be just and caring despite allowing suffering? God obviously doesn’t react to suffering, inevitable in a free world, in the same way that we humans would. I try to spare my children of suffering no matter what. One alternative to God never allowing any suffering is for God to annihilate people at the first sign of evil. Don’t we give our wayward children chances to change no matter the harmed caused to themselves or others? God also does not simply impose His will on us. Demanding respect from our partner doesn’t bring about desired reconciliation. God obviously is merciful and patient in trying to change lives, even at His expense. Miracles turn heads but Jesus’ suffering turned the hearts of billions of followers.
What possible good can come from our undeserved suffering? God hurts as much as human parents when their children suffer. A parent isn’t sadistic just because they don’t squash freedom to avoid suffering. Suffering can enable us to not fall in love with temporal existence and love what the world offers. Also, suffering enables us to reach others in ways our prosperous times don’t. It is best God not answer most of my prayers. If God stopped all suffering, whether from personal or natural evil, the world wouldn’t necessarily be better off. God will work to bring good from what was intended for evil. It is true the wicked or the righteous will not always get what they deserve in this life, but suffering was only avoidable if God had not created. Our demands for an all-powerful, invulnerable God comes at the expense of trusting God know best how to run the universe and change as many lives as possible through their own volition.