Innocence in Suffering
The patriarch Job was given great praise by James in James 5:11 when he wrote, "Behold, we call them blessed who endureth, Ye have heard of the patience of Job"... The definition of patience in the New Testament is described as "one who is unswerved from his purpose and faith, even by the greatest trials and afflictions."
As I consider all of the things that are affecting our congregation, I struggle with the ...”Why?”... and consider my own faith. How I react and how I maintain my faith has an impact on others. This is why Job helps lift me up and realize that I can endure!
Consider, within the span of one day, perhaps hours or minutes, Job's possessions were either destroyed or stolen. The Sabeans took away his oxen and donkeys, and then killed his servants. Lightning slew seven thousand sheep and their shepherds. The Chaldeans stole three thousand camels and killed their caretakers. Finally, the crowning blow, a whirlwind destroyed his children's household, killing seven sons, three daughters and their servants. (Job 1:13-19). In all of the tragedy, "Job did not sin nor did he charge God foolishly"... (Job 1:22).
Satan wasn't through with Job. He sought permission to afflict Job physically. Job was stricken with boils from the top of his head to the very soles of his feet. The pain and condition was such that Job sat in ashes and used a piece of potsherd to scrape his own skin. Through it all, Job never wavered. He maintained his integrity toward God and blessed His name.
Job's wife turned her back on God after seeing all that had happened to her family and husband. She encouraged Job to do the same, "curse God and die" (Job 2:9). Her own life had been spared and instead of comforting her husband, and caring for him in his affliction, she heaps more misery on his head. Job stands firm and rebukes his wife for speaking such things against God.
Next, Job's friends come, who above all would surely sympathize and lift Job up. (Job 2:11) Job's friends are convinced that all suffering is a result of sin that has been committed. Each of his friends did their absolute best to prove this theory before Job, but Job knew he had not sinned against his God and maintained his innocence.
Job was convinced that indeed God was punishing him, but had no understanding of why. (Job 19:2-3, 22) "Behold, He will slay me, I have no hope; Nevertheless, I will maintain my ways before Him. This shall be my salvation, that a godless man shall not stand before God." (Job 13:15-16)
For us to ask, "Why me Lord?" is natural, but for us to blame God and denounce our faith is wrong and condemns us in God's eyes.
Job didn't realize it at the time, but he was suffering due to his innocence. It is not necessary for us to know the “WHY?“ Endurance, patience, love, and faithfulness are sufficient for us in the midst of great torment and sadness. Above all else, as Paul White so succinctly expressed to us this past Sunday morning.... "Jesus is Enough!"