What You Can Know About God’s Purposes in Your Trouble
When we are going through trouble, even if it seems that God is silent, there are certain things we can know about God’s purposes for our difficulty. We can know that God is using our troubles, however they cost us personally, to give us wisdom and understanding — which are of infinite worth.
We know that two things are happening in Job after allowing his “friends” two opportunities each to accuse him of being the cause of his own trouble. He is both growing weary of them (he gives Bildad only 6 verses before interrupting him) and his words for the wind are beginning to find sure ground.
But first, let’s consider how the friends have painted themselves into a theological corner. Their arguments with Job are a perfect example of the need for every Christian to strive to be a theologian – a person who thinks deeply about God. Their thinking about God is that a just God could have no purpose to allow Job’s suffering unless it was punishment for Job’s sin. The greater the punishment, then, must mean that the sin was great. There is no room in their thinking about God that would permit a just God to allow difficulty and pain of such magnitude into the life of a righteous man. Therefore, either Job is a great sinner or God is an unjust God. I find this crucial misunderstanding often in my conversations with both Christians and unbelievers. When difficulty comes, the Christian thinks that God must be punishing them. The unbeliever points to pain and sorrow in life and concludes that a God of justice cannot exist. One of the purposes of the book of Job is to dismantle this wrong theology about God.
In contrast to his friends, Job, along with countless other Christians since him, through pain and sorrow has come to understand God in a deeper and truer way. In chapter 26, Job upholds God’s greatness and His sovereign authority.
Job 26:3–14 (ESV) — 3 How you have counseled him who has no wisdom, and plentifully declared sound knowledge! 4 With whose help have you uttered words, and whose breath has come out from you? 5 The dead tremble under the waters and their inhabitants. 6 Sheol is naked before God, and Abaddon has no covering. 7 He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing. 8 He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not split open under them. 9 He covers the face of the full moon and spreads over it his cloud. 10 He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness. 11 The pillars of heaven tremble and are astounded at his rebuke. 12 By his power he stilled the sea; by his understanding he shattered Rahab. 13 By his wind the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent. 14 Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?”
Chapter 27 is Job’s deeper understanding of God’s relationship to those who live their lives in rebellion against Him. While in his earlier complaints Job has asked why the unrighteous seem to prosper, here he acknowledges that their delight and hope is brief.
Job 27:8 (ESV) — 8 For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts him off, when God takes away his life?
He also sees that the wicked one has no portion with God and his heritage is destruction.
Job 27:13,16-19 (ESV) — 13 “This is the portion of a wicked man with God, and the heritage that oppressors receive from the Almighty…16 Though he heap up silver like dust, and pile up clothing like clay, 17 he may pile it up, but the righteous will wear it, and the innocent will divide the silver. 18 He builds his house like a moth’s, like a booth that a watchman makes. 19 He goes to bed rich, but will do so no more; he opens his eyes, and his wealth is gone.
Job 28 is one of the most beautiful chapters this world will ever know. In it Job says that, just as there are mines for silver, gold, iron, and copper (the things the world values), so too is there a place from which wisdom and understanding are mined. (28:12) It is not to be found in wealth nor the resources of this earth. Wisdom and understanding are mined through suffering and pain. Dear Christian, please hear that!
Job 28:20–23 (ESV) — 20 “From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? 21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the air. 22 Abaddon and Death say, ‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’ 23 “God understands the way to it, and he knows its place.
When you are going through suffering and pain, know that God is teaching you a painful, but gracious lesson of far greater worth than the things I lose in this world. He is giving you a deeper knowledge and understanding of the only glory that will last — the glory and joy of knowing Him. Turn in to your pain and find in it your Lord who is saying to you, “Satisfy yourself in the knowledge of me!”
Job 28:28 (ESV) — 28 And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’ ”