For a few weeks, a fellow christian from a congregation near mine had been in the ICU. Her situation grew more and more severe after she was admitted at the hospital. Several churches, including mine, had been praying for her, asking God to intervene and restore her health.
On Monday, we were all shocked by the news that she had passed away. In spite of all the requests from the people of several churches, God chose to say “no”.
Something like this might make people question God’s decision. How could a loving God allow people to go through a tough time like this, if He can prevent it?
We will never be able to understand God and why He makes His decisions. But as a loving God, He revealed a lot about Himself to us in order that we have a tiny glimpse of Him through the books of the Bible. We are still not able to fully understand Him (and we never will), but we have enough information to know that, no matter what happens, he is indeed a loving God and He always makes the best decisions.
There is one book in the Bible that deals specifically with our difficulty in understanding suffering: Job.
In the book of Job, we are told what is happening “behind the scenes”, we have information that we don’t have in other circumstances: we know what triggered all the tragedies that happened in Job’s life.
I’ve heard people say that they think it is not fair for God to “play” with someone’s life like that just to prove a point to the devil.
I say, first of all, it is not up to us to decide what is fair or not. Even though we have a little more information than usual regarding what happened to Job, we still don’t have anything compared to what God knows.
And that’s what He tells Job and his friends when He shows up, in chapter 38: they know nothing, they don’t have a clue of what’s really going on, and neither do we.
The Bible tells us that, even though Job went through a tough time and agonized for not understanding why all those things were happening to him, he finally admitted that he was wrong in questioning God’s motives.
Let’s see how Job himself responded to God:
Job answered God: “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.
Nothing and no one can upset your plans.
You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,
ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,
made small talk about wonders way over my head.
You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking.
Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’
I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!
I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.” (Job 42:1-6, The Message)
In spite of all his suffering, and still not understanding why it all happened to him, Job decides to trust God. Instead of drawing him away, this difficult experience brought him closer to God and to a deeper relationship with Him.
I am sure that Job’s story also brought comfort to a lot of people that went through difficult times. I have no idea how many people, but God knows. He already knew that, in fact, back at that moment when He decided to allow all those tragedies to befall Job. God knew exactly what were the consequences of what He decided to do.
He was not only thinking of Job, but also on the many people that would find comfort on this story. And many other things that we have no idea. And with all this in consideration, God thought it was the right thing to do.
If we look closer at Job’s story and its eternal consequences, we come to the conclusion that we might consider something “bad” because of our limited point of view. We need to remind ourselves that, even if we don’t get it, we have God’s promise that everything will be good in the end.
Soon, everyone who kept their faith in God will be reunited, and all the pain and suffering will be gone, forever. We might face years missing a loved one, but God has promised us the eternity together.
So we must have confidence in God, that whatever seems bad now He will eventually turn into something good. And if we truly trust Him and have a relationship with Him, we will have eternity to enjoy all the good things He has prepared for us, and the “bad” things will only be a distant and faded memory.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4, NIV)