What Job 1 Can Teach Us About Suffering

Suffering isn’t something we like to think of. Particularly if you live in a culture where the goal is happiness. In a naturalistic framework, suffering is the ultimate evil–killer of happiness. What does the Bible say about it? Quite a bit.

Lately, I’ve been camped out on two subjects: the problem of evil, and suffering. If you want to take Suffering 101, read the book of Job. That’s where we’ll be today, Job 1, and looking at the lessons from it.

A Philosophical Look At Job

It begins with an introduction to a man so righteous and good that only two other Old Testament characters can compare. Of course, it’s Job. Philosophically speaking, the question is, can you love God for who He is rather than what He’s done for you?

Job proves that you can. However, we learn something about the culture at the time. There were two lines of thinking then.

One is the Great Symbiosis, a line of cultural thought that says you seek favor from a deity or multiple gods by caring for them. Offerings were usually just cooking them dinner, or plying them with gifts.

A good modern day equivalent is talismans or offering something for a favor. How many of us have ‘negotiated’ with God? I have and didn’t keep my end of the bargain.

The second is the Retribution Principle. It simply states the righteous will prosper while the wicked will suffer. Karma follows the same line of thought, someone paying back what they did in a past life. You see calls for it online, “Karma will get them,” or “They’ll get what’s coming to them.”

My question is when they go through hard times, do they consider it to be their bad karma being worked off?

At the core of the Retribution Principle is justice. In a perfect world, it could work. However, we cannot avoid being affected by others’ actions, or our actions affecting others. The fact Job was the most righteous man to have ever lived at that point blew that principle out of the water.

A Personal Look At Job

This is where we turn from the philosophical to the personal. Job wasn’t guilty of anything, yet he suffered. Jesus wasn’t guilty of anything, yet the Son of God suffered. Not all who suffer are guilty of anything.

It’s not always punishment or the natural consequences of a sin. It can be because of this broken world, a personal or satanic attack. Supernatural beings aren’t using us as pawns in an undecided game. We serve an all-powerful, all-knowing God who sees and knows the end result.

Part of that was God the Son coming to earth to suffer and die for us. God knows suffering on more than an intellectual level. Suffering is actually part of the Christian life. 1st Peter is a pretty good book on it.

I don’t know who said it, but they put it like this: to the Christian, joy is at the center with suffering at the periphery. For others it’s reversed, suffering is at the center and joy is at the periphery. How can this be true?

The Christian’s joy comes from a relationship with an unchanging God.

What’s This Mean For Us?

We can’t comprehend the why of it in totality or see how far the ripples will spread. Romans 8:28 tells us God knows and He’s with us working all things–the good and bad–for the good of those who love Him, according to His purposes.

In this light, since I came with nothing, and will leave with nothing I have gotten for myself, I should–as hard as it is–give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Because as Christians, we have our salvation to be thankful for, the good to enjoy, the lessons pain teaches us so we can help others, and can rely more on God.

So cry, and run to the Father, remembering He works all things for your good according to His purposes.

The Day Ronin Acknowledged God As His Shogun

August 10th, 2014, forever known as the day I acknowledged God as God. In these three years, it’s been an interesting journey. I have a picture on my wall from that day, mostly inexpressive, looking into the camera. What a change since then, and the year before.

The Day the World Stopped

It started a little over a year earlier. I had been attending church out of obligation. When my godson was killed in an accident in my home, the church surrounded us. Even our jobs helped where they could.

An investigation started on us, and I eventually became the focus of it. I looked for an attorney, finding I couldn’t afford one and was starting to panic as paranoia crept in. That’s just the outside, inside I was either numb or angry, in shock or filled with anxiety and guilt.

And I couldn’t stop the tremors in my hands.

My wife and I were in counseling for six free sessions through a program offered by work. It was a nightmare to get her in due to a lack of an interpreter. Our pastor filled that role, later taking on counseling us both since our insurance wouldn’t pay for psychotherapy. I paid out of pocket for as long as I could, lamenting my own turmoil.


At one point in August 2013, I was completely broken. I felt like I was stuck in a nightmare, sure I was going to jail, hated by others, and hating myself. I sat crying in a pew at church while everyone was singing Just As I Am.

Weeping and sobbing, I made the chorus into the most sincere prayer I’ve probably ever prayed.

I come broken to be mended,
I come wounded to be healed,
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled…

God Begins to Move…

Things began to happen. A lawyer offered his services to us free of charge. My wife was cleared, though I was arrested and charged with child endangerment. They let me out on a signature bond, and the officers that did the booking paperwork acknowledged that is was an accident.

The court process went smoothly, so smoothly that our attorney remarked he’d never seen a case go so smoothly. I was given probation, a suspended jail sentence, a fine, and I could never get a concealed carry permit in the state again. That was the deal, and we only had one quibble that quickly went our way.

This, among other things falling so easily into place, despite the emotional turmoil and probability, I began to suspect someone was working in the background.

These lyrics from Andrae Crouch’s song came to mind to explain the year between the accident and my baptism.

Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God


The Year of the Prodigal goes over 2014 in depth. I began to study the book of James and reading Immediate Obedience. I was learning how to follow Christ. In that year, I realized I was a lot like the prodigal son in the Gospel of Luke, and God is the loving Father.

The Year of Renewal was spent diving into apologetics, and slowly turning away from things that didn’t honor God. During that year, I was diagnosed with PTSD, yet Christ works best with broken things.

I walked away from a business I had inherited the previous year, that had made the original owner wealthy. It didn’t fit me now, I was a new creation. That year rather than being a prodigal, I felt like I had been worked on by a divine blacksmith in life’s fires.

Growing Pains

2016 was the Year of Searching and Growth, where I worked on developing relationships and philosophical musings on God. I felt like I was being prepared for something, and I’m still not totally sure for what.

I lost two friends in a week’s time as I continued searching for my purpose. Occasionally struggling with the idea of relationships, because I think God is getting a chuckle at making a loner logician value and understand people from an emotional perspective.

The end of the year brought our second pregnancy along with our second miscarriage. We grieved, we questioned, yet we trusted God. This was a fire that tempers or destroys faith, and considering how I got here, it was a hotter fire that brought me to Him.

Faith was grounded, tested, and proved that year.

What About Now?

This year has just been me given greater roles at work and church, relationships developing and growing, and working on one big thing. The contrast from then and now has been a complete 180. I’m not sure if any of my old friends understand it, maybe they will if they read this. I’ve even lost some friends.

Still, tomorrow is my 3-year Rebirthday. 🙂

Understanding the Power of the Gospel

Christianity is well and good, but the core of it centers on the Gospel–the good news of Christ. What is the Gospel? What does it mean to you and the world?

He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
Luke 24:46-47

Jesus told his disciples it’s the turning away from the old life and turning towards him for forgiveness. That’s what repentance is, turning away from one direction to go another, saying no to one choice and yes to the other.

Why is the Gospel good news?

Because it’s available to everyone. Think of someone who doesn’t deserve another chance. Got them in mind?

The good news is for them as much as it is for you. It is for the worst of the worst and the best of the best, transforming lives.

The Gospel affects the world at a grass-roots level, by transforming people from inside-out, causing an impact to the world around them. It breaks down social barriers, causing people to care for others.

How, you may ask, I don’t see it?

Because prejudice cannot exist in light of the pure Gospel. Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves, treating them as we want to be treated.

Like the young lawyer who met Jesus, you may wonder who is your neighbor. To answer, Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan which illustrates even those you despise most. Don’t look at the immature and disobedient Christian as the standard, look at Christ who we follow.

The transformation and outworking come from him empowering us through the Holy Spirit, not our strength. It’s easy to tell when we fall back on our own strength. Our love of others fades.

Shooting the Messenger

Despite this news, it’s rejected. You may be rejecting it. Is it because it requires something of you, and it is touching a sore spot? This is what Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

It’s not following a list of rules and hoping you’ll make it. It’s surrendering and trusting Jesus because he did it for you. Why is the yoke light? Because he’s carrying it, and you’re just attached to it.

The Gospel just doesn’t make sense…

To a point that is true. It’s completely counter-cultural. Rather than rebel against God, Christians rebel against the wrong ideas of culture.

Only the strong survive!

God became a man, laying aside that strength, allowing himself to be killed, and was buried. Then he rose from the dead.

Can you pull that miracle off?

I think I’m siding with the guy that can’t be killed.

It’s about who you know!

The King of everything sustains everybody and everything. You’re breathing because he allows it. Yet, he came first as a servant, rather than a conqueror.

Consider this, if no one will do anything for you, who has the real influence? Yet, if they help you, how likely are they going to be able to influence you?

Money gets you both power and influence!

It gets you trinkets that you can’t take with you. Jesus offers the kingdom free of charge to you, yet at a brutal cost to himself. It’s invaluable. The Gospel is good news because it’s available to rich and poor, evil and virtuous.

Guess what?

The Pope himself can’t get in by his own merit.

No one is powerful enough to force themselves in.

The most persuasive person in the world cannot talk themselves in.

All the money in the world won’t buy you a ticket.

You simply cannot do it yourself.

The good news is that it’s been done, all you have to do is accept it by trusting in Jesus who did it, and is offering it to you.

Jesus desires everyone to be saved.

That means you.

Yes. You. How do I know? Because you’re reading this, and he’s using this to reach you.

Now I know you see a lot of words every day. Right now, if something is resonating with you, something that hadn’t been there before, that’s God the Holy Spirit adding power to these words. I’m not that persuasive.

God rewards those that seek Him. If you’re not seeking Him, rest assured, He’s pursuing you. That church sign, the cross you see, a Bible verse online, reading anything of mine; He’s making Himself known.

The good news is that He’s after you, no matter where you are at in life, He wants you as you are. No need to clean yourself up first, He’ll handle that in time.

Tomorrow may never come for either of us. So what will you do about the relentless grace of God that’s after you?