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1 - The Mystery of SufferingREAD Job 1-3
But not all suffering is punishment for sin. Not all suffering is deserved. Good people suffer too, people who do not need a kick in the pants to repent. Why does God allow them to suffer so much? – Peter Kreeft Making Sense Out of Suffering
Job was a man who endured intense suffering. God had allowed a season of life (or rather destruction) to come upon Job. We learn from this passage that Job was a righteous man. The author uses the words blameless and upright to describe him. Yet, God allowed him to suffer in very significant ways.
We live in a world broken by sin, and part of that brokenness involves suffering. There may be times that we can identify the source of our suffering, but there are many situations where there doesn’t seem to be any reason or source at all. It just is, and we didn’t do anything to deserve it.
READ Isaiah 53. Pay attention to the words used to describe the suffering Savior.
Why did Jesus have to suffer so much? We know he came to die in our place, but why did he have to endure as much suffering as he did? Again, we are not told. Suffering is a mystery. It touches all of our lives in many different ways and varying degrees of intensity.
REFLECT: Today, ponder in your heart that even our God and Savior suffered a great deal. Be reminded that you are not alone in your suffering.
Perhaps pray or respond in worship with the words of Job: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:20).
2- The One Thing You NeedREAD Job 9-11
When he passes me I cannot see him; when he goes by I cannot perceive him. - Job 9:11
You can hear Job’s frustration in his disconnect with God throughout these two chapters. We are given the sense that there is a distance and a break in the relationship.
One of the things that suffering threatens, and can potentially break, is connection. When we experience suffering it’s natural to feel like we’re losing connection with God and with others.
Part of this is because we are wired to avoid pain if we can help it, whether it’s our own pain or the pain of someone we know.
Throughout the book of Job, we hear his heart that is wrestling and striving to find that connection with God.And in the process, he is grasping for connection with his friends.
Jesus felt this same connection breaking as he was in the Garden of Gethsemane the night he was betrayed.
REFLECT: Read Matthew 26:36-46 and Matthew 27:46 and reflect on how connection with God and others was fractured while Jesus was experiencing great suffering.
3 - What You Don't NeedREAD Job 20-22
I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all! Will your long-winded speeches never end? - Job 16:2-3
Job had three friends who originally set out to meet with him in order to sympathize with him and bring him comfort. But, they failed miserably. Instead of comforting him they ended up trying to correct him and accuse him of wrongdoing.
The majority of the book of Job is made up of the conversation back and forth with his three friends. In this passage, you’ll read some of the bad advice and wrongful accusations they pour out on top of Job’s suffering, to the point where Job says, “How can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!” (Job 21:34).
REFLECT: Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. In times of suffering people need comfort, not correction.
It’s difficult to know what to say. There is much wisdom in simply being WITH someone during their hard moments. If you know of someone who is hurting, try offering a generous presence. Allow them space to communicate how they feel and refrain from responding with solutions. Thank them for sharing and let them know that you care by being available.
4 - When God Shows UpREAD Job 38-41
I know you can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted …Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. - Job 42:1-3
God was silent throughout most of the book of Job. But, when God shows up, he shows up to restore connection.
I can’t imagine how overwhelmed Job felt as God spoke to him, but as his connection with God was restored he became OK with the mystery of suffering. God never did give Job an answer for why he allowed him to go through intense pain, but did give Job his presence.
REFLECT: In Job 38:1, God begins to speak to Job out of a storm. I don’t know about you, but I am thankful for access to the words of God in the Bible for us to read!
Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-8. This is a beautiful passage of Scripture that contains a lot of contrasting language of death and life. It is a hopeful passage in the midst of suffering, as we lean on the promises and presence of Jesus.
Read this passage slowly and pay attention to what words or phrases the Holy Spirit is speaking to your own heart.
My hope is not in the absence of suffering and comfort returned. My hope is in the presence of the One who promises never to leave or forsake, the One who declares “nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God.” Nothing.
- Kara Tippetts
Just Show Up: The Dance of Walking Through Suffering Together
- Songs We Sing
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