Book Of Job Essay, Research Paper
Why Do “Good” People Suffer?
Pain and suffering are problems in life that everyone wonders about. Why should a righteous person suffer? Why does God allow his own children to suffer? The questions quickly rise to mind and on the surface seem reasonable, but a closer look at them reveals that they convey a certain meaning. These questions imply that human suffering is inconsistent with the love of God. As a God of love He either doesn’t have the power to prevent suffering, or He has the power he just doesn’t have the will. He might prefer us to live our own lives without intruding on us. Maybe we are to assume that the prevention of suffering should not be expected from a God of love who is also almighty. What if it is only the mind that causes people to suffer?
The answers may be found in the case of Job. Here is a man who looses everything he has, and is stricken with a tormenting disease, which separates him from man. Yet he says, “What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”(2:10). Job believed that it was not his place to claim good as a
Right. In other words it was not legitimate for him to decide what God could and could not do.
But how can God be love, have all power, and still allow good people to suffer? Job was a righteous person. Job was more righteous than anyone, including his friends. Job was not suffering because he had sinned. He was suffering because he did not understand the meaning of suffering. Job was so virtuous among men and he suffered great pain, so people just assume that bad things happen to good people. Job never gave up his love and trust in God, but he was a little uncertain and questioned God’s decision at times. Job brought on a great deal of his suffering himself. He wanted pity, and he did not just accept the fact that you don’t have to be an evil person to suffer. Ultimately, he was blessed again, and his pain and suffering went away. But, does this answer “Yes” to the question of anguish? If it does, then God can no longer be righteous. How can he allow good people to suffer and still be just?
The time may come, however, when one’s suffering is so horrible that death seems preferable. What is the point in someone
living if it is only to suffer? Job’s friends argue that there is a connection between a man’s sin and his suffering. They tell Job that his suffering must mean he has greatly sinned against God. Job knows deep inside him that he is not guilty of what his friends try to put upon him, yet he feels that his suffering is unfair. Why did God pick him as a target? To Job it could only seem that God has turned against him. Does God have the power to remove suffering? If so, why doesn’t he? These questions are simple for someone who does not believe in God. They can just say that life is full of chances. Without God there is no real reason to even answer these questions. But for the people who believe in God, the question is difficult.
In relation to suffering, Elihu says, “God does all these things to a person two or three times so he won’t die as punishment for his sins and so he may still enjoy life”(33:29-30). Everyone receives great things in life. There are many things to be grateful for. For most people it is easier to take things for granted than to receive them with gratitude. So do we suffer to make us more appreciative of the wonderful things we have? Maybe Job was not grateful enough
for the things he had. Job believed he was without original sin. Yes, he was righteous as far as men are concerned, but he was not righteous as far as God was concerned. If we look at suffering through a man’s eyes, then we will never understand why it is sanctioned. Since Job believed he was without sin he could not figure out his reason for suffering, and this bothered him. Elihu brings to our attention that Job was a sinner like everyone else and is exposed to the curse of sin, which would include sickness and poverty. Elihu knows that there truly are no “good” people in God’s sight. So, why doesn’t everyone suffer? Do people who sin have the right to get angry when they suffer?
In the third chapter Job says, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me”(25). Was Job’s suffering a result of his deepest fear? It is possible to believe that there are two feelings people act on, fear and love. No one would choose pain and suffering. But when there is no choice, there remains some compassion. Natural disasters and times of crisis have a way of bringing people together. Hurricanes, deaths, fires,
earthquakes, illnesses, and accidents all have a way of bringing us to our senses. Suddenly, we remember our own mortality and that people are more important than things. We remember that we do need one another. When people do things out of love, they are carrying out God’s will. God is love. When people do things because they are afraid, they are being ignorant and only thinking about themselves. Ignorance is fear.
Through Job’s suffering we see a man who not only came to a deeper understanding of God but who also became a source of encouragement for people in every generation to follow. If death is the end of everything, then a life filled with suffering isn’t fair. But if the end of this life brings us to the door of complete happiness, then the most fortunate people in the universe are those who find, through suffering, that this life is not all we have to live for.