Suffering Revisited

You know the questions.  ‘If God is all powerful and God is good, how can He allow the pain and suffering and injustice we see in the world?’  This many times is an abstract question people use to avoid acknowledging their need for God, but it becomes very real when we suffer sickness, injustice, or lose.  Then it becomes more than the abstract philosophy of the disconnected and unconcerned.  Then it becomes a cry for God to do something. Then it becomes ‘God, how could you let this happen to me? I thought you loved me.’

So let’s go back to Job.  It’s easy to get bogged down in small corners of this story and miss the full essence of this book.  Job is a person who deserves to be known and felt as a real person.  Instead we look for simple answers, for Rules to Live By.  We get wrapped up in Job’s fears or his level of faith.  We think about how much pride he had.  We talk about what we think is his final victory.  We look for simple answers in a complex story.  And we never look for Job.  Maybe the key to the book of Job and to the great question of suffering is not found in simple answers or a three point sermon.  Maybe it is found in looking at Job, in getting to know him, in understanding him, in putting ourselves in his place.

In the same way we look at the entire Bible as if it’s just an instruction book.  We think we can find all the answers to our problems by simply looking it up, chapter and verse.  A sermon topic with three points and an invitation. But life is not that simple.  Life cannot be boiled down to a set of multiple choice questions.  You won’t find answers upside down at the bottom of the page.  We need God.  And we won’t find God by looking in the index.  We have to get to know Him.

You may have a close friend that you think a lot of and you try to describe him to someone.  You will probably find it a frustrating process, and finally you will say something like, “Well, I just wish you could meet him.  I wish you could get to know him.”  That is the way it is with God.  You won’t understand Him by listening to someone tell what they have discovered about Him.  You won’t understand why there is suffering in the world or why you have to suffer by reading it in a book.  This is not a multiple choice question with the answer upside down on the bottom of the page.  You will have to get to know Him.

This is what Job discovered.  Through all his loses of family, possessions, and health, through all his sufferings at the hands of Satan and at the hands of his friends he finally discovered God.

We suffer and in our suffering we justify ourselves.  We say ‘I don’t deserve this.’  We rail against God.  We accuse Him.  We shake our fists at Him.  And after all that, after we have worn ourselves out in our futile ravings, we find that God is still there.

Post Script:

I wrote this quite a while back and it has some stuff in it that’s valid.  But I’ve been sitting here editing the daylights out of it and I still don’t think it says what I want to say.  At the core of it is this:  I can’t survive by just knowing about Him.  I need more than a verse here and there, more than a sermon topic, more than a devotional paragraph or two.  I need to KNOW HIM.

The children of Israel came to the mountain of God.  They told Moses,  ‘We’re staying right here.  You go up on the mountain and talk to God.  Then you can come back and tell us what He said.’  Religion is fine but let’s don’t get carried away with it.

Paul said in speaking about Christ, ‘That I might know Him, and the power of His resurrection…’

‘And the fellowship of His suffering.’

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About Angus Lewis

My wife and I lived our whole lives in Arkansas until ten years ago. We moved to the Kansas City area in 2011 (a job change). That was the reason for the 'From a Far Country' title. Our children and grandchildren were in Arkansas. Six months ago we sold our house and bought one in Sherwood, Arkansas and my wife moved back down here. Two weeks ago I retired and moved back too. (I'm probably going to try to find something part time to keep me out of trouble.) So maybe the 'From a Far Country' title is not so much of a fit anymore. But I think I'll stick with it. I'm still not home. Not yet. The Bible says we are all strangers and pilgrims here. Our real home is with God and some day we'll be there. We'll be home.
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2 Responses to Suffering Revisited

  1. manoahswife says:

    I am having a similar problem getting this reply to say what I want it to say. I must have composed 5 or 6 responses already that have been discarded in the “bit bucket.” The bottom line is that as long as there is sin in the world, there will be all the rest of the mess that goes with it. God intended from the beginning that we would have fellowship with Him. For the life of me I can never figure out why He bothers. We are such a rebellious, troublesome lot. It is one of those things I have to take on faith: He wants us to know Him. You are right, that never comes from just a verse or two, a sermon, or a short devotional. The amazing thing is that it will take all of eternity to discover the depth and breadth of the Father. Christianity is the only “religion” that promises a relationship with a Living God. Job knew that no matter what happened to him, the relationship he had with God superceded anything else. Each of us must come to the same conclusion, and we must be willing to let everything else fall by the wayside if it gets in the way. Their is no such thing as faith or relationship by proxy. Thank you for posting these on Job. They have blessed me.

  2. Angus Lewis says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

    Anybody who steps into Job should do so with trepidation. A lot of nuances there, a lot of questions, more than I can handle.
    When I read over what I wrote a few years ago I realized how self assured it sounded. The older I get the less sure I am about a lot of things and that’s a good thing. The one thing I am sure of is God’s love.

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