Questions that God asked Job

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The Bible tells of a man named Job, who suffered the loss of his family, his possessions, and his health. When he questioned God about why this had happened, God responded…but, in His response, God did not answer Job’s question. Instead, God asked Job a series of questions. Essentially, God’s response was, “Who are you to question me?”. The idea is that we know very little about how God operates, and why He does what He does.

I find that reading this part of the book of Job to be an awe-inspiring and humbling experience. We too wonder why we suffer. For those who know little of God, the question is troubling. Those who know how God has revealed Himself to humanity over time can cite His character, and His track record of faithfulness, as evidence that He can be trusted even though we may suffer. Christians read in the New Testament that suffering produces character, which leads, in the end, to hope (Romans 5). It seems strange that suffering would lead to hope but, in my experience, suffering makes us ask important questions…questions that should, eventually, lead us to the same conclusion that Job himself came to: that God knows what He’s doing, and that we can trust Him.

Recently, someone asked me if I knew how many questions God asked Job. I wasn’t sure, and couldn’t find a definitive answer…so I did a little homework. We find the questions that God asked Job in the book of Job, chapters 38 through 42. I counted 66 question marks, so there are at least 66 questions. Some questions, however, have more than one question in them. For example, in verse 24 we find these two questions:

Here are the questions that God asked Job, taken from Job chapters 38-42. I do not offer them to you to answer the question, “How many?”, but as food for thought. As you read, consider the implications of who God is, and how vast is the difference between the Creator and mankind, His greatest creation.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,

Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?

On what were its bases sunk?

Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Or who enclosed the sea with doors
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
When I made a cloud its garment
And thick darkness its swaddling band,
And I placed boundaries on it
And set a bolt and doors,
And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther;
And here shall your proud waves stop’?

Have you ever in your life commanded the morning,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?

Have you entered into the springs of the sea
Or walked in the recesses of the deep?

Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?

Have you understood the expanse of the earth?

Tell Me, if you know all this.
Where is the way to the dwelling of light?

And darkness, where is its place,
That you may take it to its territory
And that you may discern the paths to its home?

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
Which I have reserved for the time of distress,
For the day of war and battle?

Where is the way that the light is divided,
Or the east wind scattered on the earth?

Who has cleft a channel for the flood,
Or a way for the thunderbolt,
To bring rain on a land without people,
On a desert without a man in it,
To satisfy the waste and desolate land
And to make the seeds of grass to sprout?

Has the rain a father?

Or who has begotten the drops of dew?

From whose womb has come the ice?

And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?

Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,
Or loose the cords of Orion?

Can you lead forth a constellation in its season,
And guide the Bear with her satellites?

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens,
Or fix their rule over the earth?

Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
So that an abundance of water will cover you?

Can you send forth lightnings that they may go
And say to you, ‘Here we are’?

Who has put wisdom in the innermost being
Or given understanding to the mind?

Who can count the clouds by wisdom,
Or tip the water jars of the heavens,
When the dust hardens into a mass
And the clods stick together?

Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
When they crouch in their dens
And lie in wait in their lair?

Who prepares for the raven its nourishment
When its young cry to God
And wander about without food?

Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth?

Do you observe the calving of the deer?

Can you count the months they fulfill,
Or do you know the time they give birth?

Who sent out the wild donkey free?

And who loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
To whom I gave the wilderness for a home
And the salt land for his dwelling place?

Will the wild ox consent to serve you,
Or will he spend the night at your manger?

Can you bind the wild ox in a furrow with ropes,
Or will he harrow the valleys after you?

Will you trust him because his strength is great
And leave your labor to him?

Will you have faith in him that he will return your grain
And gather it from your threshing floor?

Do you give the horse his might?

Do you clothe his neck with a mane?

Do you make him leap like the locust?

Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars,
Stretching his wings toward the south?

Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
And makes his nest on high?

Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
Let him who reproves God answer it.”

Now gird up your loins like a man;
I will ask you, and you instruct Me.
Will you really annul My judgment?

Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?

Or do you have an arm like God,
And can you thunder with a voice like His?

The following questions are related to “behemoth.” The identity of behemoth is unknown, but the text clearly suggests a large beast. Some commentators suggest that this is an elephant, a hippopotamus, or possibly a dinosaur.

Behold now, Behemoth, which I made as well as you…
Can anyone capture him when he is on watch,
With barbs can anyone pierce his nose?

The following questions are related to “leviathan.” The identity of leviathan is unknown. Some commentators suggest that this may be a crocodile, a whale, a shark, a dragon, or a dinosaur.

Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook?

Or press down his tongue with a cord?

Can you put a rope in his nose
Or pierce his jaw with a hook?

Will he make many supplications to you,
Or will he speak to you soft words?

Will he make a covenant with you?

Will you take him for a servant forever?

Will you play with him as with a bird,
Or will you bind him for your maidens?

Will the traders bargain over him?

Will they divide him among the merchants?

Can you fill his skin with harpoons,
Or his head with fishing spears?

Behold, your expectation is false;
Will you be laid low even at the sight of him?

No one is so fierce that he dares to arouse him;
Who then is he that can stand before Me?

Who has given to Me that I should repay him?

I will not keep silence concerning his limbs,
Or his mighty strength, or his orderly frame.
Who can strip off his outer armor?

Who can come within his double mail?

Who can open the doors of his face?


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28 responses to “Questions that God asked Job”

  1. Jeff Rogers says:

    Rob-
    I love this book of the Bible. It reflects the fact that, if you think you have troubles, look at this man of God! But, I really have focused on the words when God asks Satan ” where have you been?” And Satan answers ” To and fro an IN Earth”. Brings the question to mind ” is Hell inside of Earth?

    Jeff Rogers

    • Tony says:

      Jeff:

      I see three errors in your question. They’re pretty simple to unravel. One is based in language, the other two in simple ignorance about what Scripture says. I mean no disrespect, of course…I’m only describing what’s happened, not judging you for it.

      1. It’s a mistake to read the Bible in modern English and suppose that we can understand it without digging further. Most scholars believe that Job may have been written first…that is, that it is the oldest book in the Bible. When you and I say “in earth” we may mean something different than what the writer of Job meant. The Hebrew word that’s translated ‘in the earth’ is ERETS. A brief glance at the usage of ERETS shows that it has a wide range of meaning. It can mean the whole world, a country, tribal territory, dirt (as in “the ground we walk on”), the inhabitants of the earth, and so on. When Satan said that he had been wandering to and fro ERETS, he could have meant that he was roaming the planet, or just lollygagging around the countryside, or pacing back and forth in the neighborhood. It’s as if he was saying, “I’ve been around…here and there.”
      2. Nobody is in Hell at this time. Why? Because nobody has been judged yet. When we read about judgment in places like Matthew 25 and Revelation 15, we see that it is not happening all the time, when each individual person dies. Instead, it will happen all at once for all people, at the end of time.
      3. Satan is not in charge of Hell. It’s not someplace he would just visit. In fact, Matthew 25:41 tells us that Hell was created specifically to be the final destination – as punishment – for the devil and his angels. Those who reject God will share his fate.

      So…no. Satan wasn’t inside of the earth, hanging out in Hell.

      • Isis Goodson says:

        TONY, how long have you been studying scriptures ? Where did you start or begin?

        • Tony says:

          Hello, Isis! I’ve been a Christian since 1973, and started learning then. I continued learning as a teenager, and studied religion and philosophy (and broadcasting) in college. I spent many years listening to radio programs and reading books to learn how others study, how they use (or misuse) Scripture, and – of course – learned the basic principles of hermeneutics in college.

          How long have you been studying scriptures?

      • Cathy Weiler says:

        What a great response! Thank you for encouraging those who read the Bible to read it and not skim it. Read it in the King James version, and then in a different format if you wish, look words up to get their true, intended meaning. God loves it when we tell Him we don’t understand and ask for clarification–He knows He’s got our attention. We won’t have a written test on our knowledge of the Bible when we get to Heaven. But we will receive a full understanding of the depth of His love for us. Read the Bible as though it is a love letter, because that’s what it is.

    • Carolyn Harris says:

      WOW! It is something to think about.

    • John Mark Boyd says:

      I have heard from other believers that Hell is found in the center of the earth, but this is not possible. Hell and Heaven are in a spiritual realm, therefore not in the earth. The Bible states that everything in the end of time will be consumed with fervent heat. Since this would include the earth I personally do not believe Hell is located at the center of our planet. When we read the story of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus we come to the understanding that there is a great gulf between the two places of the Hadium realm, the place of torment called Hades and the place of comfort called Paradise. In these places those who occupy each can see the others in their realm. The rich man could see Lazarus and Abraham. The rich man called him “Father Abraham” which proves we gain new knowledge since there is no way the rich man could possibly know what Abraham looked like. We also learn that we retain the knowledge we had to the point of death since the rich man remembered his brethren still on earth. We know those in Paradise are comforted since the Bible states Lazarus was comforted in Abraham’s bosom. This leads some to believe “Abraham’s Bosom” is what this place is called, but this is just the body part of Abraham where Lazarus was being comforted. Since this story is an actual event, and not a parable, we learn about the flames in this horrid place called Hades. We know this is an actual event because unlike parables there are proper names used; i.e. Abraham and Lazarus. Even more unnerving is the fact that we will know our loved ones and where they are. It would seem impossible to be in comfort and enjoy Paradise if you knew your loved ones were in Hades, but I suppose we’ll leave that to God for He promises there will be no more tears, nor pain, nor sorrow. I have found it quite useful studying this story and the knowledge we gain from it. Within this we come to the understanding that these places must be in a spiritual realm for those who occupy these places are spirits themselves. Not just spirits but in such a form that they can be recognized. I would suppose this would be the spiritual body created by God for us to receive after we leave this life behind. It is also important to note that Hell and Heaven are not as yet occupied by any man or woman or child who has lived and died. We shall not occupy Heaven until after the judgment and neither will the lost occupy Hell until after this day. Jesus has said no man has seen God except the Son of Man who has beheld Him. This also lead me to another scripture I found very interesting. (John 3:13)
      “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” By this scriptures we come to the understanding that Jesus Himself was here on earth and in Heaven at the same time, which of course seems impossible, but with God all things are possible, including the Godhead itself. One God yet three personas of God in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. No my friend I do not believe Hell, or even Hades, exists at the center of the earth. They must exist on a spiritual realm and therefore occupied by spiritual beings which is what we shall become after death. Death itself is a separation. The first death is the separation of the soul from the body. The second death, which the lost will experience, is the separation of the soul from God. Once the first death occurs it will be determined by the life you lived whether or not you’ll experience the second death. I pray that we shall not experience that and some day, if we are both saved, we may converse in person as spiritual beings either in Paradise or Heaven itself. 🙂

      • Tony says:

        John:

        Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I would make one suggestion in response: stick to the text.

        What you’ve written is pretty good. I’m not trying to undermine what you’ve written. My concern is that you’ve decided that the passage about the rich man and Lazarus is definitely not a parable, and then worked hard to derive theological meaning from it. That’s okay… but only if you’re right. Scholars are divided on the matter, and the text isn’t clear about the nature of the scenario. If it’s a parable, then there’s ONE major idea to take from it. If it’s not a parable, then we should derive from it everything we can. The danger of treating a parable like an actual event is that parables can’t convey the full meaning of a real event, and that leads us to draw conclusions that aren’t warranted in the text. I’m sure you agree on the principle, even if you feel firm in your conclusion.

        If it’s a parable, it probably teaches us nothing about gaining new knowledge, about whether this place still exists, about whether Lazarus was in “Paradise,” and so on. Some of your conclusions, as well, don’t seem to match the text. For example, you say it’s a spiritual realm… but the rich man wants water to soothe his agony. Is that a metaphor? You see, when it comes to drawing conclusions about biblical matters, it’s important to note what the text says, and what the text does not say. I find your comment interesting, and worth reading. I would caution you – and those who read your words – to study carefully, and to speak even more carefully.

        Have a great day!

  2. Jeff Rogers says:

    okay, I can accept that. But you are wrong when you say all will be judged at the same time. Does not Revelations say there is two(2) resurrections? The first is the resurrection of the righteous, and the second, the resurrection of the just and unjust?

    • Tony says:

      Jeff:

      I have an idea: why don’t you look up the two resurrections, and see what the Bible says, and then compare that with what we know about judgment day, and let me know what you think? That way, you’ll be sure about what those verses say…and others who read your comment will benefit from your research. =)

      I would make sure to read Matthew 25 first, though…Jesus spoke specifically about this subject, and it makes sense to start there.

      • Billy says:

        The rich man lift up his eyes in the torments of hell and saw Lazarus comforted in Abraham’s bosom. His prayer was that his brothers would not come to this awful place of torment.

        • Darryl says:

          The Rich Man was in Sheol or the grave as distinct from the Lake of Fire for the unredeemed after the Great White Throne of Judgment. All those who reject salvation go to that place of torment, generally regarded as in the centre of the earth where it is very hot. Although when we die, we appear to have some sort of spiritual body (‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’), as Tony said, nobody is in hell yet. The first two to go there will be the Beast and False Prophet in Rev 19.

  3. Kathryn Briley says:

    Jeff, Are you s Seventh Day Adventist?

  4. henry kenyan says:

    the book of job tells us more beyond what we think .in it its greater than reveration and all other books .it explains God creation in detailed mannar first it tells us the foudation of the the earth how its set , other planet and end with human discoveris and even explain that man has aboudaries in our discovories example… And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no
    farther;….all what sientist are bussy tying to bring to book is here.The exoplanet NASA explains is eaready explained here what is in entire galaxy is explained here and part one ends with geographical creation

    part 2

    the question explan the nature in this consept
    the rain and is source, the wind and its source the ice,lightening and many others it tells us all what happens get order from God… example Do you know the ordinances of the heavens,
    Or fix their rule over the earth………

    part 3
    the qustions further explains about animals of the wild how God take care of the example.. .. …… .. Do you observe the calving of the deer?
    Can you count the months they fulfill,
    Or do you know the time they give birth?
    Who sent out the wild donkey free?
    And who loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
    To whom I gave the wilderness for a home
    And the salt land for his dwelling place?
    Will the wild ox consent to serve you,
    Or will he spend the night at your manger?
    Can you bind the wild ox in a furrow with ropes,
    Or will he harrow the valleys after you?
    Will you trust him because his strength is great
    And leave your labor to him?……….

    part four
    it explains about animals of the sea that we know and those in extinct that no man kows

    In entire consept God greatnest and might us evidence if you read the etire book you will see its divided three major phases
    1-the eviroment on his creation
    2-the life and what happens in it
    3-if God says yes it shake even the nature and his cimmand has power over all
    4-the end of the world

  5. Marlon Austin says:

    When we die, our soul stands in judgment immediately. We will have to account for our lives, for the good that we have done and for the sins we have committed. We call this the particular judgment because it is particular to each person. If we are free of all sin and the hurt caused by sin, we immediately will be welcomed into Heaven, where we will enjoy the beatific vision, seeing God face to face. If we have died with venial sins or the hurt caused by sin, our Lord in His love and mercy will first purge and heal the soul in the place called Purgatory; after this purgation and healing, our soul will then be welcomed into Heaven. However, if we have died rejecting God, with mortal sins and with no remorse for those mortal sins, then we will have damned ourselves to Hell; the firm rejection of God that we made in this life, will continue on in the next. This teaching is substantiated by our Lord’s declaration to the repentant thief, St. Dismas: “This day you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

    • Tony says:

      Marlon:

      Thanks for writing, my friend. I really appreciate it.

      The things you describe are commonly-held beliefs among Catholics (and some others), but they don’t appear to match what we see in Scripture. They come from extra-biblical tradition, and not from the Bible. I say this with respect, not condemnation.

      Starting at the beginning, it’s clear that what you’ve written contradicts Scripture. If you go to Matthew 25 and read about the judgment, you’ll see that it will happen when the Son of Man comes in His glory. All of the angels will be with Him. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. You see, we’re not judged right after we die. We’ll all be judged together, at the same time. It’s important to make sure that what we believe matches what God has said in His Word…right?

      Another item that’s very troubling is the idea of purgatory. Why is it troubling? Because it directly contradicts the Word of God. We read in a number of places that Jesus died for the sins of the world. John the Baptist said it. Paul explained to the Corinthians. It’s the basis for our salvation: we have all sinned, and the penalty is death…but Jesus paid the penalty for us. He died in our place. Purgatory contradicts Scripture because, in Purgatory, people atone for their own sin. Jesus’ death, according to Catholic doctrine, only covers sins confessed to a priest. That’s why you believe that someone could die and have the stain of sin on their soul. If that were how it worked, Jesus only died for mortal sins. Fortunately, there is no debt left to pay, and no sin left uncovered. Nobody will atone for their own sin and then go to Heaven, Marlon. Jesus died for all sins, for all people, for all time.

      Hell is real. Sin is bad. We should all accept God’s gracious offer of salvation…but that salvation isn’t something we can accomplish on our own. We cannot atone for our own sin. God didn’t set it up that way. Hebrews 2:9 tells us that Jesus tasted death for everyone. Nobody has been left out. 2 Peter 2:1 talks of false teachers who deny the Master who bought them…so Jesus’ death covers even unbelievers.

      It’s important to make sure our beliefs match God’s Word. If you are (or were) Catholic, chances are pretty good that you haven’t spent a lot of time reading the Scriptures for yourself. I would recommend that you take the time to look up what God has said, and to change your perspective to match His. If you have questions, or would like to chat some more, please feel free to respond or to email me directly. I wish you well.

  6. L Hardy says:

    So when we are in pain we just have to have faith that it will eventually give us hope? I would not, as a loving parent, do that to my child. I love God, but I have no loving answer for that which is consuming me now.

  7. Matan says:

    What about Sodom and Gomorra? Or those whom God judged in the wilderness? Let alone Cain and the flood generation? Will those peple have a second chance?

    • Tony says:

      Matan:

      You ask an interesting question. Hebrews 9:27 says people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. This has typically been understood to mean that nobody gets a second chance.

      However: there’s an interesting passage in 1 Peter 3 that some take to mean otherwise: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits – to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built..

      To be clear, most commentators say that this is one of the more difficult passages in the New Testament. We’re not entirely sure what it means, and it’s a very bad idea to draw strong theological conclusions from unclear passages. That said, some believe this verse to say that Jesus explained the gospel to those people and gave them a chance to respond.

      I don’t think that’s the best explanation. First, while the King James version says that Jesus ‘preached’ to them, the best translations say ‘made proclamation.’ They seem like very different things, don’t they? What did Jesus proclaim? Nobody knows. Could it mean that they got a second chance? It seems possible. Does it mean that? Nobody knows. Because we’re unsure, I would suggest a careful response to the question. Here’s what I would say:

      God will do what is right.

      If these people needed or deserved something that others don’t get, God would provide it for them. If they had the same opportunities to be saved as everyone else, I have no reason to believe that God would give them a second chance. Since the Bible gives us no actual indication that anybody gets a second chance, I would leave it at that. Does that answer your question?

      • Donald says:

        Where does the judgement seat of Christ fit in with all of this and the rapture of the church? Does the tribulation include the church or will the church return with Christ to judge?

        • Tony says:

          Donald:

          I’m confused. You’re replying to an article about the questions that God asked Job, but your questions are about the end times. Am I missing something, or are you just asking an unrelated question? I’m happy to discuss anything with you, but I’m not sure how to understand what you’re asking. Thanks!

  8. Christine says:

    Could you tell me when – the year this article was published as I want to cite it .
    Thanks

  9. Katherine says:

    Thanks for the commentary, Tony. I do have a slightly related question, as it has to do with the death of Christ.

  10. Charlotte says:

    It seems so cruel to use a living being to prove a point to satan. God mercilessly let satan torture one of his children to make a point. It’s terrible. And when questioned, God misdirects and states all the things he did do so he doesn’t have to answer Job’s question, why God wouldn’t spare Job. I struggle with this. I’ve read people’s arguments, God doesnt cause pain and suffering. But if he has every power in the world to stop the pain, why wouldn’t he. And in this case, God directly caused it by allowing satan to plague Job. By God’s own account, it sounds like he is saying he’s too darn busy laying out the earth and helping the doe calve to help anybody. If hes almighty and caring, can’t he spare my cat while hes hanging the clouds? It seems like rubbish. The whole book of Job seems like a hopeless dream. It gives an example of a guy who was tortured to hopelessness but hung in there so God blessed him twofold. The basic “keep your head up” story just for morale’s sake. If God kills all my kids but then turns around and gives me twice as many kids, I don’t think that would make me feel any better. I would still miss the kids he killed. The premise of Job: worship God even though he’s cruel and tortures you. He should repay you twofold but theres no way to enforce or confirm it so were not really sure but still worship God.

    • Tony says:

      Charlotte:

      You make a good point. We do NOT naturally share God’s viewpoint. We have our own ideas about what’s best, and we often feel comfortable criticizing God for doing what we think He should not. I’d like to suggest that our natural response may not, logically, be the right response.

      First, there’s the obvious point that God is God, and we are not. That has two major implications:

      1. He gets to decide, well, everything. Good or bad, He has all the power.
      2. He knows things we don’t know. There may be reasons that what we think is bad is actually best.

      If God gets to decide, then our complaining accomplishes nothing. I’m not suggesting we just learn to like it when bad things happen, but that we have no control over our own fate. We like to act as if we do, but we don’t. If God were actually a cruel monster, we would still have to decide whether to please him or anger him… and it seems like pleasing a cruel monster is in our best interest. God isn’t a monster, but He does decide our fate.

      Finally, we get to the most important point. Why would God do such a thing? As you ask: if God is good and loving, why does He allow pain and suffering? Why doesn’t He just FIX things? Because you’re a human being, I’m going to assume that you’ve suffered, as I have. As everyone has. The question isn’t simply an academic question. It touches us where we hurt. We all have tender places from what’s been done to us, and it’s not bad to ask why.

      Why does God allow pain and suffering? Let me suggest that an explanation based on #2 above makes sense. We want to know things, but we don’t. We ask God to explain Himself, but He seldom does. We question him – as Job did – but He doesn’t owe us any explanations. I wish we had more explanations, quite frankly… but that’s my natural response. I – naturally – don’t have the information I need to judge God.

      There’s an event in the life of Jesus that may shed light on the whole question of pain and suffering. We read about it in John 9. I’ll summarize: a common view in ancient Israel – along with the rest of the ancient world – was that health and wealth was a sign of God’s favor, while sickness and disease and poverty were signs you or your family had done something wrong. Along those lines, Jesus and His disciples were walking along and saw a man who had been born blind. They asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Seems like a legit line of questioning to me. Either the man had been blind since birth – suffering – because of someone else’s sin, or he had somehow sinned before he was born. Neither seems fair, obviously.

      Jesus’ response shows that things are not always fair. We want them to be, but they’re simply not:

      Neither this man nor his parents sinned, said Jesus, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

      That doesn’t sound fair, does it? God allowed him to be born blind, and to be blind all the way into adulthood, just so Jesus could heal him? Think of the frustration. Think about how many times he must have tripped over little things, how he had never seen his mother’s face. He probably wasn’t married, since he wasn’t likely to be skilled in a craft… not to mention the idea that his blindness seemed like evidence of God’s displeasure. How cruel! What was God thinking?

      Let me suggest that we know what God was thinking: He wanted to display His works in that man’s life, so people would see them. Our priorities are not the same as God’s priorities. Had the man been born with sight, Jesus would not have been able to heal him. Without any sickness or disease, Jesus would not have been able to heal… to tangibly show that He is God, come to earth as a man. The entire book of John contains 7 main “signs” that show that Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be… and here’s what John wrote about that:

      Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

      God allowed the man to be born blind – a seemingly cruel thing – for a larger benefit: so that the works of God might be seen. Why? So that people would have evidence that Jesus IS the long-awaited Messiah. Why? So we might have eternal life, that’s why. It seems apparent that God is willing to use some people for the benefit of others.

      I’m one of those people. I decided to trust God with my life as a young child, and have reinforced that decision over and over. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19, You are not your own; you were bought at a price. My life isn’t my own. It is God’s, and I’ve agreed to live in a way that pleases Him… even if it’s an expensive way to live. One small example: I’ve had more jobs than anybody I’ve ever met. I’ve worked part-time, temporary, on-call, project-based jobs for most of my life. It’s not the best financial situation, for sure! It was also incredibly frustrating. I wanted to take good care of my family, and moving from job to job – in spite of being a very good employee – didn’t look like success to me. I spent many years angry at God over the situation. I would find a new job, do it very well, and get promoted to a position of leadership… only for the company to go out of business, or to be let go by the new boss I just hired, or to be injured and unable to keep the job, and so on. Time after time, I had to start over. It was very frustrating, especially since my motives were pure. I took my responsibilities seriously, I worked my tail off, I did nothing wrong… yet, again and again, I suffered.

      After being fired by my boss, I sulked for several days. I was tired of starting over. I was mad that God had put me in this position AGAIN, even after begging Him for help. Then, I remembered something. I remembered that I had dedicated my life to Him. I had told God that He could use me in any way He wanted… that I belonged to Him, and would trust that His decisions about my life would be for the best. I started to reassess my perspective on what success in the workplace looked like. Maybe changing jobs wasn’t a failure. Maybe God had me change jobs because I had already finished the work He sent me there to do. Maybe changing jobs wasn’t some kind of bad luck, but about moving into the next opportunity for God to use me to benefit others. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t born blind or anything. I’m not really comparing my suffering to his directly, but I do believe that my suffering might accomplish the same goal as his did: to help others believe, and so be saved.

      Does that make sense? Suffering certainly isn’t pleasant. We don’t normally seek pain and suffering. We can, however, see ways in which our own pain and suffering might be beneficial to others. I take seriously Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:

      Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

      I’ve decided that it’s okay with me if God allows me to suffer. He knows things I don’t know… like who might cross my path today, or who is watching from a distance, that might need to see God working in me. It’s not a natural way of thinking… or is it? Don’t parents suffer for their children? I’m a dad. I choose my own suffering over my child’s suffering all the time. Don’t we choose less for ourselves so others might have more? I have no doubt that you do this sort of thing, Charlotte. In this way, you mirror God’s priorities. You’re willing to suffer when you see that it will benefit someone you care about. You’re being quite like God when you do that.

      Maybe Job didn’t suffer so God could make a point to Satan. Maybe Job suffered so God could make a point to you, and to me, and to millions (or billions) of other people. Maybe it was more than worth it, in the long run. Maybe Job is watching, smiling with tears in his eyes, knowing that the hard things in his life ended up being good things for so many others. Does that make sense?

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