By Patti McDonald, Professional Mom
We are human, that’s a fact. We ask WHY. Another fact. Have you ever wondered why something happened, or why it happened in the way it did? I have.
For example, why did the log pop out of the ocean, just as the little boy was walking on the beach. And kill him! Why did the car swerve just in time to miss the oncoming traffic? Why did it hit?
Some of the WHY questions for all of us are: Why am I sick? Why did my husband die? Why did I miscarry? Why did my child die? Why did I wreck my car? Why did my house burn down? Why did the flood come here? There are as many WHYs as there are people. Why did my wife get cancer? Why did the tornado hit my house and not my neighbor’s? Or vice versa.
These and many, many more WHY questions are sent to a Holy, loving God every single second. So, how does he answer our WHY?
Sometimes the WHY is far off. Sometimes it is immediate. There is only one answer. The answer is to trust God. We don’t see with “God eyes.” His power and omnipotence are not in our realm, these qualities are higher and more intense than human hearts can understand. In our weakest moments, He is strong.
Still, there is sadness, mourning, anger, and grief in our suffering, whatever the reason. I have gone through seasons of WHY. If yours includes the finality of death, to me, it is much harder to understand the WHY and for some and some situations, we will not understand fully until we see Jesus, however, there is a glimmer of understanding in God’s Word.
In our quest for the WHYs in our lives, consider Job. The Book of Job 1:1-5 says:
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all of the people of the East. His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.
For the full story, you must read the whole book of the Bible, however, to condense it, as I like to do, I will give you the gist. Job was a prosperous businessman who loved and worshiped God. He was, according to scripture, blameless. In that day, before the Messiah came to Earth, animal sacrifice was a picture of the redemption of God. As mentioned, Job worshiped God with regular sacrifices as was his custom.
Job is a perfect example of “bad things happening to good people.” Satan approached God about “his servant Job” stating that if God would let him cause him harm, he would curse God. God gave Satan permission to take “everything he has, and he will surly curse you to your face.” God said he could cause mayhem in Job’s life, but “on the man himself do not lay a finger.” It wasn’t long before Job’s ten children were killed as they feasted in what sounded by description like a tornado, “a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house.” They all died. All of his oxen and donkeys were killed by the Sabeans, all of his sheep were burned up with his servants by “the fire of God” from the sky and all the camels were carried off by the Chaldeans.
To these disasters and tragedies Job responded: Job 1:20, At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
The Bible makes clear that Job “did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
There is no record here to support that Job asked “Why” in this portion of his story, however, Satan came back to God and even though Job had “maintained his integrity” during the first onslaught of Satan, that was not enough, for Satan said, “Stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
God removed his hedge of protection on Job’s physical life for the final test. He said, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”
Job was stuck with an illness that manifested itself with boils on his skin. He was miserable and even in despair in his circumstances. To say he was joyful would be a great misgiving. He was quite possibly in a dark place. The rhetoric of his dilemma is consistent with a person in utter misery. His “friends” came to comfort him but caused him nothing but more pain. His wife, even said, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” To which Job replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
This sets the scene for some of the most telling scripture passages in the Bible. As the condition of Job’s illness dragged on, as I said he came to a very dark place and with the “council” of his 3 cohorts and his wife, he asked why several times in the scripture passages.
Chapter 10:18, “Why then did you bring me out of the womb? I wish I had died before any eye saw me.”
Maybe you have been in that dark place, asking Why?
Then as Job is coerced by his friends to just lie down and die, he retorts with one of my favorite verses, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” He says later, “I know I will be vindicated.”
Another favorite: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.”
Then my all-time favorite verse in the whole book, “But he knows the way that I take, when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
Consider this, as you study about Job, he was a man, he lived a long time ago. He was tested by God through the “Prince of the Power of the Air.” Satan has been defeated, but he is still working and roaming about as a Lion, seeking to steal, kill and destroy. Make no mistake, we must be as vigilant as Job and continue to trust God no matter what the circumstances.
But for the sake of continuance, I will elaborate on the end of Job’s story, which goes like this: Epilogue, 42:12-13 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters.
Verse 16: After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.
What have I learned through the suffering of Job? First, we are not immune to pain and suffering just because we trust God. Many suffer with horrible circumstances and endure to the end as Job. And I encourage you to do so. Job asked Why and was given the answer of the ages. Trust God and lean not to your own understanding. Always and forever, we are to trust the God who made us and gave Himself for us. We may understand the Why early or when we meet our maker, however, he has a plan to make us as pure as gold.
I want to make clear that suffering for saints and sinners is not always tests similar to Jobs, sometimes our suffering is the consequence of our sin or continuance of sin, such as unhealthy or licentious living, or temptations that produce sin. Our prayer must first be to accept our payment for sin through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. After that, as tests come, our prayer should be as the prayer of David, Psalms 139:23, Search me, O God, and know my heart: test me and know my anxious thoughts, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Amen and amen.