Job And The Question Of Suffering

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It’s striking that God does not accuse or condemn Job in his speech. Job has done nothing wrong. There was no reason for Job's misery; it is not a punishment from God. The viewer in the theater has had a glimpse of heaven in which Satan has challenged God, but the unfortunate man never received that and will never know it. There is no reason for the misery, no sin that is the cause of it and that should be solved or forgiven. Job eventually finds peace in his misery. That is not only when everything is straightened out again, not until healing has come, but there, already in his misery. Besides that, if the Lord is enraged with anyone, then it is with Job's talkative friends who had sound theories and theologies, who could explain everything about how the Almighty works.

Job must pray for his friends so that God will be merciful. That is another unexpected turn! In a short epilogue in the book of Job, everything seems to be restored again. The book is finished. Job again receives new wealth and status and prestige. God has been good to him. Yet it is not good until everything has been restored and health, wealth and prosperity have been given. It was good already in the misery.

It feels like this old book (the book of Job is seen as the oldest story in the Bible) has a lot to say about us now. It is perhaps a cure for the Western discomfort around the theme of suffering. The message of faith is not that there must be a reason for suffering. The message of faith is not that there is always a solution. The message of faith is certainly not a theater of healing. The book Job is also an encouragement, to be honest with God. You can apparently go so far that you totally disagree with God. But, you certainly get this if you read the book of Job carefully; you have to be on your guard when you think you understand everything about the Lord God Almighty.

In the old church, Job is also seen as a type of the suffering Christ who had to learn patience, who took suffering in silence. Followers of Christ will also be followers of the suffering Christ, cross-bearers. And they wait in patience for the Lord. Not until they understand it, but until they hear the word of God themselves. In the end, Job is also a book of hope. Everything will be fine. Not as a reward, not because Job has done a good job and passed an exam, but because God straightens everything out. The reasons are not made clear. Probably because there is no reason at all.

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