A Lie Good Men Believe About Suffering
"Agree with God, and be at peace;
thereby good will come to you.”
At first glance one might think this to be a proverb useful for good relations with God but it is a deadly misconstrued concept many Christians believe.
Job was a righteous man. God even called him a blameless and upright manyet God’s hand allowed for so much suffering. Under the sovereignty of God Job lost all that he had worked for, servants, possessions, health, and even his children. When his friends came to check on Job after hearing of his suffering they could not even recognize him. They sat with him, wept with him and listened to him while he tried to understand what God was trying to do. But just because they were there with Job does not mean that they were giving good advice to Job’s situation.
Before Eliphaz, Job’s friend, makes this statement Job has made a case in chapter 21 that many in this life who are wicked prosper. This type of thinking is common among mourners who have lived a “descent life” and see those who have sinned over and over again only to build up blessings from evil. Job saw this and was angry at this injustice.
Eliphaz in turn comes to correct Job, or so He thought, in chapter 22. His statement in verse 21 makes the remark that adds up to say, “Being on God’s good side will bring about peace and prosperity upon you.” So Eliphaz seems to think that God’s grace is dependent upon us being on His good side. God brings suffering to evil and good to those who “agree with God.”
But Eliphaz was wrong and so are many today. Job was indeed a good man who was subjected to suffering allowed by God. It was not based upon what he had done for God or what he had not done for God. It was based upon the will of God.
But many of us do not like this conclusion that good men suffer except when it comes to Jesus. We see that God did lead Jesus to suffer and be inflicted with pain even though He was the perfect son of God. Why do we think we should exclude ourselves from the sufferings that God brings our way? In a way many enjoy the sufferings of our grandparents and great grandparents for fighting for our freedom against the enemies of America yet do not wish to have to do the same. Likewise we often also look to the sufferings of Jesus in thankfulness with no real thought that we will have to face our own sufferings from the same Father as well.
God has a purpose in our sufferings to mold us, yes. Thinking that being a descent man will make us have peace with God and no real sufferings, no. God had a plan for Job’s suffering that was beyond Him being a good man. God wanted to bring Job closer to Him through the fire of suffering and He probably wants to do the same with you in your own sufferings. If this is true then we can be encourage because now our suffering has a purpose.
This is part two of an ongoing series on suffering.
Caleb Rawls is the pastor at Pleasant Home Baptist Church located in Laurel Mississippi. He and his wife Taylor work to lead the church to love God and reach out to their community with the good news. They also have a golden-doodle named Tiglath-Pilesar IIII.