Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The mystery of pain

"Job and his False Friends" by Jean Fouquet (1420-1477/81)
"Job and his False Friends" - Jean Fouquet (1420-1477/81)

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Job 33:1-30

" ' Behold God works all these things.' " - Job 33:29

It's fascinating to note that in this book that may date back to the time of Abraham (its date and authorship are uncertain), Job and his friends are wrestling with the question "Why does bad stuff happen to us?" in much the same way we do today.

In our reading Elihu, a young man, speaks up after Job's three older friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar have had their say and Job has answered them. Elihu gives his thoughts on why we suffer. Some of his points:
  • We may never know. God isn't obliged to tell us - Job 33:13.
  • "God may speak in one way or in another …. In order to turn man from his deed..." - Job 33:14-17. Elihu mentions some means God may use, like dreams and visions, to deliver His message.
  • These divine communications are meant, in the end, to discipline and humble us. Sometimes, unbeknownst to us, they keep us out of harm's way - Job 33:17-18.
  • Pain and illness chasten us and drive us to God - Job 33:19-24.
  • God heals in response to prayer - Job 33:24-26.
  •  Confession of sin is part of returning to God, in order that we may be saved from an even greater disaster - Job 33:26-28.

All these many years later, we, like Job and his peers, continue to question and seek for answers to pain, sickness, natural disasters, accidents, etc. And like these ancients, we still come to the conclusion that these things are a mystery; we don't understand.

But we can content ourselves with one thing: "God works all these things." Let that fact about the God, who has said about His people: "Behold I have loved you with an everlasting love…" (Jeremiah 31:3), be enough.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to trust Your love and good intentions toward me when I think I understand what You are allowing in my life, and when I don't. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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