Pain and suffering affects everyone
It is a well established fact that you cannot be human and escape tragedy.
Kristie and I were married for three years before pain and suffering visited us. We lost our first baby before he or she was born. It was very early in the pregnancy, but the pain was more than we could handle. It is extremely difficult to go from the joys associated with new life to the pain accompanied by death within such a short period of time. So much so, that it has taken two years for me to reach the place where I can publicly write about it.
If you are old enough to read this text, I have no doubt that you have experienced such pain at some point in your life. Like I said, this is something that is common to all humanity.
As do most people who go through such tragedy, I’ve experienced a number of emotions and traveled through several different stages of grief. The hardest of these stages was the time I spent learning that God does not have to tell me why such tragedy is present in my life. It is to this subject that I have dedicated this series of posts.
How do you, as a believer, relate to God after unexplained pain associated with a personal tragedy?
I have decided to use the story of Job to address this question. My ability to trust in God’s goodness again was greatly assisted by this Word from God. It is my prayer that yours will be as well. For this series, we’ll primarily be interested in Job 42:1-6, but before we get there I’d like to spend some time talking about why Job is such a good example for a believer trying to reconnect with God after such unexplained and personal tragedy.
Job was a righteous man.
The first chapter of the book of Job tells us that he was a righteous man before the Lord. This doesn’t mean that Job was perfect, but it does point to the fact that he had a relationship with God. As a Christian, you too share this relationship with the Father. As a Christian, you can relate to Job in his suffering in a way that unbelievers can’t.
Job was afflicted with much pain and suffering
Job’s suffering was of such an immense type that his friends believed it had to be on account of some hidden sin. Throughout the course of the book, Job defends his righteous lifestyle and insists that his suffering is not related to sin. In the conclusion, Job is vindicated and his friends are judged by God for giving bad counsel. The story of Job is important to us as believers because it teaches us that suffering is not directly related to sin. It does not mean that God is angry with you just because you experience unexplained personal tragedy.
Job’s understanding of God was violently shaken
Although Job did not sin against God (1:22, 2:10) or blame Him for the evil that he was experiencing, we can clearly see the onset of depression and Job’s inappropriate questioning of God. Although he refused to believe that God was punishing him for his sins, he objected to the fairness of his situation. It is at this point that we can really connect with Job. We know that God is good and we know that He is right in everything He does, but we cannot always understand why He does or allows certain events in our life. Often times, as in the case of my suffering and in the case of Job’s suffering, we are tempted to place God on trial. We ask Him questions like a prosecutor would ask an individual on trial. Job did not blame God for the pain and suffering, but he certainly pursued a line of questioning that assumed God was required to answer him. It is for this that Job must later ask forgiveness.
Job’s grief over unexplained tragedy was satisfied by a personal encounter with God
Like Job, you and I, as believers, have had a personal encounter with God. It is only through this encounter, namely the person Jesus Christ, that you and I can find peace with God in the midst of unexplained personal tragedy. This personal encounter with God reaffirmed Job’s faith in that which he already knew: “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives and that at the last, He will take His stand on earth” (19:25).
Before we get started, there are a couple of disclaimers that I should mention. First, if you are without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you cannot look to Job for comfort. His hope was in a God that you have yet to accept as your Redeemer. If this is your situation, it may be that the Lord is making good out of your unexplained tragedy by calling you to Himself. Second, if you are a believer, it is important for you to understand that Job did not sin or blame God in spite of his tragedy. If you have blamed God for the tragedy or sinned against Him in response to this tragedy, you must first reconcile yourself before Him for such attitudes, thoughts, or actions. Job’s peace in the midst of unexplained personal tragedy was only possible because He believed that God was good and that God was just. You cannot continue to blame God and find peace to this unexplained personal tragedy.
I will post the next part in this series on Thursday.