The Job’s Question

Why God lets humans suffer for many things such as from financial poverty, sickness, depression, through loss of job, car accidents, diseases, to loss of beloved ones, even a child, starvations of people including helpless children, and wars and disasters that swept so many lives even including innocent children? We may coin it as the ‘Job’s question’. Job, as he was afflicted by such extreme disasters, he asked back to God basically saying, ‘Why did this happen to me who had been doing right before you, God?’ (for example, see Job 31:24-40).

Can you answer this question to the ones who are asking back to God? I wish I could for I feel my gut hurts with them. Furthermore, I myself also wonder from time to time, as I get weary, why such a thing is happening to my life who dedicated his life to Him? I am not implying that I am better than any other that I was not supposed to have such skeptical question against God. If Job had it, most of us may well have it, since Job was an upright man recognized by God himself. So no one needs to pretend to have gotten over such a question already. It is legitimate one for anybody as long as he/she lives in this life, I think. 

What might be the right answer to it, nevertheless? Is there anyone who can answer to it as if he/she understood God’s mind? Yes, I saw some Christians who said to those who asked the question, “It is God’s will.” Yes, I agree to it at least in that everything in life is from God. But I would be extremely careful to say such because I may imply unawarely that it was God who brought the disasters to them. Carelessly, for example, I might be saying, “It is He who killed your innocent child because He had something else in mind upon you?” Could it be true? Would it make the person who asked the question satisfied? I would never think so. Probably this is what the three friends of Job’s did; they came to console Job but what they did to Job was hurting him the wound—they just added spiritual pain to Job’s physical pain by accusing him falsely. They should not have dared to answer such a way as if they had had all wisdom of God. Neither should we, to our neighbors who are in any agony. 

I am not able to give a right answer to the question directly. The only thing that I would dare try is to share my insight into such nature of human life, and that, in relationship with God, for I am also in the same kind of shoes. It may not be helpful at all or may be the same with the one that others have tried only to hurt worse those who are in suffering.

My answer is faith and hope. It is hope that that we, followers of Jesus, are supposed to live on. The hope is that we see over the sufferings, even though the future over them is not either certain at all—there may happen worse things, and, moreover, there may not be an end to sufferings until we die. The hope is simple, however. It whispers to us always as we are going through such hardships and agonies, saying, ‘Everything will turn out to be the best for you and God has prepared the best for you over this.’ It is faith that makes us live on the hope. That is, that we live on the hope means we are looking forward over the problems now we are going through. It is impossible for one to live like that without faith. It is possible only as he/she believes that God, who is all in all, is in charge of everything of his/her life and He will reward him/her eventually if he/she endures to the end, if not in this world, necessarily in the life to come (cf. Heb. 11:6). It is possible because he/she is seeing forward through the current tribulations, sufferings and agonies. Seeing life this way is the hope (cf. Heb. 11:1). 

In other words—my point is this—what is really important for those who want to be saved eternally is not how to understand (or know the reasons for) such sufferings and hardships that are happening in life but how to see them and furthermore, how to live with them. As we see forward over them, we are living our life by faith and in hope, which are all possible for only those who are truly in God, who is over all. This is why the prophet Habakuk said, “Only the righteous shall live by faith” and also the scripture says, “One is justified by faith.” Also regarding hope, scripture says, “In this hope we were saved” (Rom. 8:24). 

I even did not dare try to answer the question directly. What I tried is to remove our focus from the problems themselves or the inevitable nature of human life to something or somewhere beyond the problems and our present life. I hope this makes sense and my idea does not hurt anybody who are seeking for consolation. In fact, that is what Jesus our Lord and Savior showed us regarding the question, if you will. He did not focus of the severity of death he was facing but the accomplishment by it, the fulfillment of the will of God. So, even though he was killed by the cruelest way in the time with being tormented and ridiculed, he did not focus on the mode and severity of death but something beyond them. My careful point by Jesus’ crucifixion is that we should not let the mode and severity of suffering distract us from the right attitude, that is, enduring it by faith and in hope. That is to say, if we have faith and hope, we would endure and persevere whatever the mode and severity of sufferings may be; on the other hand, if we do not have them, we will not be able to endure and overcome them at all even if they are not so severe (cf. Matt. 17:20). In short, we have to see beyond our problems by faith and hope in God. Our faith and hope, thus, save us. This is what the Scripture teaches as what Jesus exemplified to followers, such as: 

Philippians 2:5-11

Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Hebrews 2:9

But we see [Jesus] who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

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