Faithlife Corporation

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Notes & Transcripts

“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, ‘It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did continually.

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, ‘From where have you come?’ Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’ Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.’ And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

“Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and there came a messenger to Job and said, ‘The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, ‘The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’ While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.’

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’

“In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where have you come?’ Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.’ Then Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.’ And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.’

“So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.

“Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

“After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.” [1]

“Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life.” Is that true? Is this momentary existence so precious that we will exchange anything for one more breath? The modern perception is that people are so self-centred that they will not act nobly. The movie “Titanic,” perpetuated the modern myth that men shoved women and children out of the way to get into the lifeboats. In fact, it is reported that there were no instances of men acting out of self-preservation. One example was witnessed in the American businessman and millionaire, John Jacob Astor. Astor kissed his wife good-bye before she was put in the lifeboat. He said to her, “I resign myself to my fate,” and saluted in farewell. He had surrendered his own place in the boat because he had seen a woman running toward the boat. He was last seen assisting Major Archibald Butt lower lifeboats until the last one was lowered.

When gunfire erupted at the July 20, 2012 premier of “The Dark Knight Rises” at the multiplex in Aurora, Colorado, three of the men killed were killed protecting others. Jonathan Blunk, Alex Teves and Matt McQuinn were each killed shielding others from the gunfire. Each gave his life so that others might live. Their actions demonstrate the lie that reigns in contemporary mythology. Men still give their lives defending others; mothers will still sacrifice their own comfort and even their lives, for their children. Nor should we imagine that such sacrifice is something only seen in this day. Jansuz Korczak willingly surrendered his life, escorting orphans who were marched to the Treblinka death camp.

Christians who have grasped the essence of the life they now enjoy in Christ the Lord will sacrifice themselves for others. Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan friar, volunteered to take the place of a man condemned to die in Auschwitz. When the U.S.S. Dorchester was torpedoed with 900 raw recruits aboard, four chaplains—George Fox, a Methodist minister, Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed minister, Father John Washington, a Catholic priest and Rabbi Alexander Goode, surrendered their lifebelts so that others could live. These four stood atop the ship singing hymns until she went sank beneath the waves. There is no question but that Christians are prepared to give their lives for another.

People have grappled with the question of why bad things happen to good people since earliest days of the Faith. The truth is, we don’t have all the answers—we have never had the answer to this question. A book that attempted to grapple with this problem was published in 1978. Harold Kushner, a conservative rabbi, had watched his son die from the effects of an incurable genetic disease, progeria. His conclusion was that God wanted to do good, but He couldn’t always do what He wanted. Perhaps Rabbi Kushner’s god is such a truncated deity that he is incapable of doing what he wishes. The True and Living God is not pitiful, paralysed and powerless, however.

The Psalmist has testified of the Living God,

“Our God is in the heavens;

he does all that he pleases.”

[PSALM 115:3]

Elsewhere, among the Psalms is found another statement of God’s power.

“Whatever the LORD pleases, he does,

in heaven and on earth,

in the seas and all deeps.”

[PSALM 135:6]

A powerful king of a pagan land painfully learned this lesson on one occasion. Driven from his kingdom and suffering from lycanthropy, he was compelled to testify, “At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,

and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;

all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,

and he does according to his will among the host of heaven

and among the inhabitants of the earth;

and none can stay his hand

or say to him, ‘What have you done?’”

[DANIEL 4:34, 35]

Among the membership of any congregation will be those who have experienced unexpected and severe reversals of fortune. Some within any given assembly will have faced chronic debilitating conditions that have taxed their energies, leaving them exhausted and questioning why they must suffer so. Others, whether they actually say the words or merely think them, will feel as though all hell has been unleashed against them. These saints who suffer would wish to have an answer for what is happen, though it is doubtful that they will ever receive a satisfactory response to their struggles.

Though I dare not imagine that I shall provide a definitive answer, I believe the Bible does present reasons behind the trials experienced by God’s people. Assuredly, the text chosen for this particular study speaks to the struggles of the blest in perhaps more instances than we could imagine. Join me in a brief study of Job and the problem of sorrow for the believer.

THE FAITHFUL — At the outset, let me state unequivocally that we are taught that salvation is by faith and not by works. We are redeemed for God’s glory, and not solely to ensure that we have a trouble-free life. In fact, we need to heed the words Jesus spoke as He prepared His disciples for His exodus. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” [JOHN 15:18-20].

An astounding number of the professed people of God imagine that they can recite a prayer much like that attributed to Jabez and be spared trials, testing and trouble. They frequently base this assumption on what is recorded in 1 CHRONICLES 4:10. “Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!’ And God granted what he asked.” We must be careful to avoid falling into a trap of thinking that God’s mercy and goodness is extended on a quid pro quo basis.

To be certain, Jabez offered up his desires out of his circumstances. He sought relief from pain. His name was “Pain,” and it is reasonable to imagine that his pain arose as much from rejection by his family as it did from some malady or chronic condition. I would not seek to dissuade any Christian from seeking relief when she is tested; but if she is Christian, I would urge her to offer her request with the attitude the Master exhibited when He prayed, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” [MATTHEW 26:39a]. At the moment of His extremity, Jesus sought the will of the Father, praying, “Your will be done” [MATTHEW 26:42b]. I suggest that while we should be bold to seek God’s glory, we need to offer our petitions in a spirit of humility. In moments of lucidity we confess, “We do not know what to pray for as we ought” [see ROMANS 8:26].

The question of suffering demands that we confess a humbling truth—no one is good. Let me repeat that and let it sink into your consciousness—no one is good. You will no doubt remember that when a wealthy young man ran up to Jesus, addressing Him as “Good Teacher,” the Master responded by instructing him in order to draw out understanding of what he said. “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” [MARK 10:18].

Perhaps we rush past the compilation of the character of mankind provided in the Letter to Roman Christians; but we should weigh most carefully the dark characterisations that Paul compiled primarily from the Psalms. As I read those dark words again, hold in mind that they apply to all of us—none are excluded.

“None is righteous, no, not one;

no one understands;

no one seeks for God.

All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good,

not even one.”

“Their throat is an open grave;

they use their tongues to deceive.”

“The venom of asps is under their lips.”

“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

in their paths are ruin and misery,

and the way of peace they have not known.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

[ROMANS 3:10-18]

Good people? According to God’s criteria, there are no good people. Admittedly, any of us can say that we are disposed to be kind; at least we want to be able to make such a claim. However, honesty compels us to admit that such tendencies are transient at best. We aren’t typically robbers, or murderers, or sexual predators. Nevertheless, when we say that we are not guilty of such actions, all we are saying is that we are relatively good when comparing ourselves to people who do such things. You see, what we are doing is confusing public decency and goodness. Goodness is godliness; goodness is doing what God would do and doing it consistently. Goodness is not measured horizontally, but vertically. We can only speak of goodness in relative terms, because we don’t dare compare ourselves to God, who is good.

Our sinful condition disposes us to downplay our own sinfulness. “Well, yes,” we will say, “I get angry sometimes; but I’m not like others.” Or perhaps we will say, “Of course I tell little white lies from time-to-time; doesn’t everyone?” We minimise the sin in our own lives! Here is the fascinating thing about sin in the life of the child of God who wants to please the Father—the closer he comes to God, the greater his awareness of his sinful condition! We cannot see our sin except that God should open our eyes; and that is such a painful experience for most of us that we draw back from such exposure, even though the exposure is in secret and known only to God. Isaiah put his finger on our condition when he wrote:

“Your iniquities have made a separation

between you and your God,

and your sins have hidden his face from you

so that he does not hear.”

[ISAIAH 59:2]

So, among the faithful of our Lord are people that fall under this censure. Painful though the situation may be, we are compelled to confess that there is none good. Indeed, it is more than an academic exercise for us to confess, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” [ROMANS 3:23]. When we permit ourselves to recall what life was like when we were lost, we are horrified. Paul accurately described our condition at that time when he wrote, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity” [EPHESIANS 4:17-19].

We were dead in trespasses and sins, walking in rebellion and following the prince of the power of the air [see EPHESIANS 2:1-3]. Outside of Christ, even our minds and our consciences were defiled [see TITUS 1:15]. When we were outside of Christ, we were incapable of thinking christianly because it was impossible for us to receive the things of God [see 1 CORINTHIANS 1:14]. Until we were redeemed, our minds were hostile to God; it was impossible for us to submit to God’s law [see ROMANS 8:7]. We read Paul’s words, but they seldom have the impact on us they should. The Apostle testified, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” [ROMANS 8:8].

This was our condition when Christ called us and made us alive with Christ the Lord. Now, we confess that though we are made alive in Christ, sin still dwells within [see ROMANS 7:20] and “evil lies close at hand” [ROMANS 7:21]. Enough foolish talk about being good, then; with the Apostle we Christians confess, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” [ROMANS 7:18].

Why is it important to spend time on what we know, though we don’t particularly enjoy being reminded of this condition? The reason we need to recall this truth is to establish that there is no good person on this earth. The question poses an impossibility—bad things don’t happen to good people. Really, we should be asking why good things happen to bad people.

Job was not a good man. He was known to God. In fact, God spoke of Job as His servant [JOB 1:7; 2:3; 42:7]. Ultimately, the LORD restored Job’s fortunes, blessing Him greatly. However, Job was not a good man. God is gracious—“He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” [MATTHEW 5:45]. God satisfies the heart of mankind with food and gladness [see ACTS 14:17]. These statements speak of common grace given to mankind. God does not discriminate in the grace He showers on all mankind. However, His redeeming grace is reserved for those whom He has called to life. Yet, though the righteous are redeemed and forgiven all sin, they are still sinful.

THE TRIALS OF THE FAITHFUL — Unbelievers seldom gain much traction in denying that Jesus existed. When they attempt to cast doubt on His deity, the faithful dismiss their contentions. It is almost an axiom of unbelief that Christ deniers will resort to what is a classic question of God’s sovereignty. “Why would a God who is good allow bad things to happen to good people?” There are multiple answers to this disingenuous question; however, we are focused on one particular response in this message.

Don’t imagine, however, that only unbelievers ask such questions. We who believe, who are born from above and into the Kingdom of Heaven, are sometimes brought to the point of asking, “How could God let this happen to me?” Or perhaps we ask, “Why doesn’t God stop this pain and give me relief?”

I do not intend to focus on the lost who question God’s goodness. We’ve already established that they are incapable of thinking properly. Attempting to convince them of God’s goodness is futile; they simply cannot comprehend. We do pray for them and show them every courtesy; but we must not attempt to convince them of what they cannot understand. However, for believers, we admit that the struggles to continue in the Faith can be arduous at times.

Jesus warned His followers that following Him would be demanding. Consider just a few of the instances when Jesus warned those who wished to follow Him. Jesus sent out His disciples on mission. These are His instructions. “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” [MATTHEW 10:16-22]. He continued by saying “It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household” [MATTHEW 10:25].

Preparing His disciples as they set out on this particular mission, the Master warned them, just as He warns us, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” [MATTHEW 10:34-39].

Bearing the cross was a common theme in Jesus’ teaching. He said, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” [LUKE 14:27]. Jesus also said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” [LUKE 9:23].

Near the end of His ministry, immediately before His Passion, Jesus spoke quite pointedly to His disciples. I’ve often read the words with you, but I do want you to hear them once again. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you” [JOHN 15:18-16:4].

It is little account whether we speak of illness, of financial reversal, of family disintegration, of loss of friendships, of opposition or physical assault—all alike are painful. Perhaps there are multiple reasons for any of these. In some instances we recognise the cumulative effects of our mortality, of ageing or of past exposure to detrimental conditions. In other instances, we recognise that God may have permitted us to undergo some particular trial in order to refine His saint, preparing him for glory.

We know that in some instances, God permits His child to experience painful situations as discipline. Discipline is not always punishment; discipline is always for the benefit of the child to disciple her to the Master. This is made plain in the Letter to Hebrew Christians. “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

nor be weary when reproved by him.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

and chastises every son whom he receives.”

“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline” [HEBREWS 12:3-7]?

At yet other times, our own sin brings painful trials. After warning Judah of what is coming, Jeremiah exposes the reason for the painful tribulations that will surely break over the land.

“And if you say in your heart,

‘Why have these things come upon me?’

it is for the greatness of your iniquity

that your skirts are lifted up

and you suffer violence.”

[JEREMIAH 13:22]

Though there are multiple reasons why a child of God may pass through troubled waters, one constant for the believer is opposition from sinners. Even when they are not pointedly opposed to the Christian, they tend toward resentment just because the saint exhibits confidence in Christ and humility before God.

While all these situations mentioned (and perhaps more) may be the cause of trials for believers, Job presents one that is both overlooked and exaggerated. While the wicked one may assail the child of God (he does “prowl[] around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” [1 PETER 5:8]), it would be the exception for one of God’s children to receive the full brunt of His rage. Satan has a large number of fallen angels to do his bidding to torment the people of God, seeing to cause them to stumble. Their warfare waged against the saints frees him from the necessity of personally assaulting the child of God. Thus, it isn’t likely that when a saint complains that the devil is attacking her that she is correct. She may be under attack; but it is more likely to be demonic powers who are conducting the assault than the devil.

However, one should not imagine that believers pass their lives unnoticed by the devil. We can’t explain all that is revealed in these opening chapters of Job. We are astonished to learn that the angels appear to present themselves before the LORD with some degree of regularity, and that Satan is with them before the LORD. And if these things astound us, how much greater still is our consternation when we discover that God permits Satan to sift some of His choice saints [cf. LUKE 22:31]. We cannot explain what is revealed, nor can we rationalise why God should do this. We do hold this confidence by faith, however—whatever comes into the life of God’s child is permitted by Him who is too wise to ever make a mistake and too good to needlessly hurt His child. We are assured of God’s love and of His presence with His people; we see this comforting truth presented repeatedly throughout the Word. Here are a few examples of God’s presence promised for His people.

Paul testifies, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” [1 CORINTHIANS 10:13].

God has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” [HEBREWS 13:5].

Jesus Himself has promised, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” [MATTHEW 28:20].

Jesus also taught His followers, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” [JOHN 12:26].

We may be certain, therefore, that we shall be tested. Jesus cautioned disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation.” However, He followed that caution with cheery words of victory. “But take heart; I have overcome the world” [JOHN 16:33].

After speaking of the trials we must face, Paul points to victory for the child of God. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” [ROMANS 8:37].

John reminds the believer of their destiny in Christ Jesus. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” [1 JOHN 4:1-4].

Those words anticipate what he would write as he was drawing that brief missive to a conclusion. “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” [1 JOHN 5:4, 5]?

BEHIND THE SCENES WHEN THE FAITHFUL ARE TRIED — What is going on behind the scenes? We are able to describe with some accuracy what is happening in this present life; but what is going on in the unseen realm? To answer this question we need to appeal to one who has witnessed what occurs in the unseen realm.

What happens when Satan personally focuses on the child of God? Trials and terror will shake the Christian to the core. Like Job, he will question what is happening. He will be deserted by friend and family in all likelihood, for who wishes to stand next to someone who is a magnet for such trials? For Job, the only thing off limits was his life; and he wished for life to cease so there would be a respite from the agony.

This was not some transient opposition, some momentary unpleasantness; this was satanic rage poured out on the hapless saint. He wondered whether God Himself was raining down wrath on his head. He invested precious energies he did not have reviewing his life and questioning every action he could remember to see if there was some sin that still plagued his life or whether he had harboured some evil in his heart. He had some friends who assisted him by condemning him as a secret sinner; they were convinced that he must have sinned grievously against the Lord God. Even his wife, distressed at her own loss and grieved at witnessing all he was experiencing suggested that he needed to curse God and die. Don’t be too hard on the poor woman! She was suffering because of Job; she had no place to turn.

I suggest that the most grievous pain Job experienced was his sense of isolation, his feeling of being alone. The thought that no one could understand, no one was able to stand with him, no one was willing to hear his defence of his character, seems to have inflicted more pain than the sores or the sorrow that accompanied the loss of children and the loss of wealth. For Job, the thought that he was utterly deserted without even an avenue of appeal to God must have caused more pain than anything else. He prayed, he cried out, he wept—nothing seemed to move the hand of God.

Behind the scenes a cosmic battle was being waged, and Job could not see it. It was only after the battle had ceased that Job could begin to gather his wits and attempt some semblance of understanding. After the fact, we can learn some valuable truths. Our theology is essential when the forces of hell appear arrayed against us.

Is God sovereign? Then, we must seize on that truth, believing that He will not permit anything to come into our lives that does not ultimately benefit. However painful our situation, we must believe that God is in control.

Is God omnipresent? Will He ever desert His beloved child? Then, we must hold fast to this truth, even when our feelings scream that we are alone. We must cling to the knowledge that God is a very present help in trouble [see PSALM 46:1].

Is God omniscient? Does He know what I am experiencing? Then, we must be confident that He knows not only what is happening, but He knows how matters will end.

Is God omnisapient? We must rest secure that He knows what He is doing when He permits us to pass through deep waters.

Is God omnipotent? I rest in the knowledge that He is triumphant and that in Him I, too, shall be victorious.

How comforting are the words Isaiah recorded so many years ago.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the LORD your God.”

[ISAIAH 43:1b-3a]

This is the God we serve—a Father too wise to make a mistake and too good to needlessly hurt His child. All that He permits is for our good and for His glory. Amen.

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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