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.

Called To Be Difference Makers; Learning Under Jesus

Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions.

Jesus had just described the perfect disciple along with the values of God’s kingdom. He continues, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

Salt is a preservative. Is he saying we’re to preserve the world? The good in the world? If we don’t, we’re useless. How do we preserve good?

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

“Light of the world…” Isaiah wrote twice that we were to a light to the Gentiles, so that God’s salvation may reach the ends of the earth. What were the exact words…”I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles…”

Then there’s, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Yeah…

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

We’re to be the contrast, what light is to darkness; needed and different. How different are we to be as God’s representatives to the world? What about the Law?

Jesus was just getting started.

Matthew 5:13-16
Isaiah 42:6; 49:6

The Vision and Mission of Ronin’s Journey

What’s the point of this blog? Why bother? It’s because I see a need, a world that’s harassed and helpless. I want you to not only to apply what you learn here, I want you to know why. In a nutshell, I want to develop thoughtful purposeful Christians.

How?

By cultivating a life of the mind that’s connected to the heart, to create depth, a thoughtful Christianity. Then working outward in an application with a purpose. That’s the point of the two series, Simplified Systematic Theology and Learning Under Jesus.

There is a surface belief in the world, but it’s shallow. There’s little to no application. Why? Because it’s not real to people, they haven’t thought it through. The ones that have, live it or reject it.

Some History

That’s how this blog has been trending since 2014. Before that, it was politics and social commentary five

In the early days

 

days a week. Then a traumatic accident took my godson. Ronin’s Journey became a soul-searching grief journey in mid-2013. Little over a year later, I met Jesus in a way that was deeper than my cultural Christianity.

I began writing what it was like to actually follow him. Matthew 6:33 was the tagline and is still my life verse; “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness, all these things will be added to you.” Then I began refining the blog, and still am to this day. First by moving to private hosting this time last year. It’s not cheap, but I have more control, and no one can take it from me.

Why Bother?

At this point, we are surrounded by cultural Christians in an environment that is increasingly hostile to our worldview. They grew up in church, but never totally committed to Christ.

Does your foundation have the depth to withstand and answer the world’s questions? If not, prepare yourself; if so, prepare others. Take what you know and share it, live it as a testimony. It’s getting dark but that’s when the light shines the brightest.

Your Mission, If You Choose To Accept It…

Here are my goals for me, and for you if you so choose:

  • Grow in knowledge and service to Christ. How? By following him and thinking through the ramifications, deeply. Ask questions like, “What if I don’t do ____?” “Why should I do _____?” “What’s this mean?” “What if I do             ?”
    I’m confident that time and time again, it’s the best choice. Not always easy, but the best.

Here’s my challenge for you.

Every place that you are at, Jesus is there in you, Christian. Do what he would, in your place, at work, home, public, private, etc. Not sure how?

When I first took the plunge, Pastor Jaime told me to start by reading two things, the book of Romans in the Bible and Immediate Obedience: The Adventure of Tuning Into God. I started another blog, inactive but still there, to chronicle it. First Samuel 12:24. Click the title and it will take you to the first post ever, where I began a 90-Day challenge.

I can’t do this alone. I’ve gotten this far with a lot of grace, curiosity, and self-study, yet I’m reaching almost a thousand people online. You can do it too, you can do better, live a life that’s a worthy testimony and reach who you can your way.