Making Sense of the Suffering of Job

Generations have for many centuries enquired the age-old query “Why is it that good people face bad outcomes? In addition, “why would the almighty God allow a good person to suffer?” These specific queries have been, over time been robustly hypothesized and debated by both philosophers and theologists, more particularly when about God, and they denote this facet as a theodicy. A justification of the holiness and justness of God and his divine attributes while still maintaining and recognizing the utmost belief that wickedness exists among the people. When it comes to this aspect, the most acknowledged of theodicies stems from one of the poetic or wisdom books in the holy book, the Book of Job, in the Old Testament. While staying in UZ, which was fertile land, Job lived an exemplary and faultless life. Job owned very vast farmland, flocks of sheep, was blessed with a huge family and was extremely wealthy. In the Book of Job, Job was portrayed as an outstandingly righteous person who abided by God’s law and word without hesitation or question. He followed the word of God keenly, and this was reflected in his way of life.

Nevertheless, regardless of these endeavors, successes, and the overwhelming praise due to his flawless character, he was compelled to undergo suffering at a highly unbearable cost. In Job’s own opinion, he considered his suffering highly unjust. The main question; is why was Job forced to undergo all that suffering by God, was it God trying to prove to Satan that despite all the suffering, Job would not abandon him, why was Job’s suffering so significant, and why was Job’s suffering so immensely different from other persons within the Holy Book?

Trying to thoroughly understand and comprehend the context of the Book of Job is a challenging assignment to conclude as it involves the most complex topic within the experience of humanity, and that is suffering. After a brief of Job’s personality and life, the episodes start to open up after the conversation between Satan and God, where we observe God boasting of the undivided loyalty of Job to Him. God articulates to Satan if he has kept Job, who was highly loyal to Him, and that there was no individual like him on earth, as he was upright and had no fault. “A person who shuns evil and fears God” (Job 2:5). Nevertheless, virtue does not essentially denote that Job was living a life without sinning; instead, he was more probably within good standing with God and was highly repentant, thus ensuring his connection with God was right. This, however, did not convince Satan. Satan claimed that the riches Job derived was why he was so committed to living a righteous life and reserved undivided loyalty to God. “A man will curse you if you took up his material wealth, and stretch your hand to touch his flesh and bone, cursing you to your face” (Job2:10). Following Satan’s statement, God gives Satan the leeway to inflict immense suffering upon Job, including his well-being, loss of his flocks, wealth, and family, including all seven of Job’s children. Spare only his life; he is in your hands (Job 2:13). This was highly unfair to Job, as with God’s assurance, the wager was set, a wager Job essentially was not aware of. Job nevertheless remained faithful to God despite not knowing the wager between God and Satan, losing the entirety of his pride, loved ones, flocks, and material possessions. This, however, did not make Job shy away from inquiring God’s logic towards the massive suffering he endured, together with faulting God for making him suffer unjustly; that raises the fundamental question as to why God would allow Job to suffer to prove Satan wrong.

In truth, it is incredibly improbable that God, in essence, took an interest in what Satan deemed to be accurate or otherwise. Still, at an initial glance, it seems as if God put the wager with Satan over the consequence of the suffering of Job and enabled and provoked the wager. Nevertheless, via an extensive reading of the text, a more fundamentally diverse vibrancy is divulged within Job’s conversation with his three allies Zophar the Naamathite, Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite. What began as a self-effacing attempt in mourning for Job turns out to be a similar conversation between Satan and God that initiated the series of unfortunate outcomes for Job. Nevertheless, the divergence is that their discussion orbits around the viewpoint that Job was not without blame for the suffering e underwent. Suffering was indicative of sin that is present in an individual’s life.

Even if their debate began with Job’s good qualities and attributes, Eliphaz was unequivocal in declaring that the suffering Job underwent due to his wrongdoing. No one innocent ever perished, nor their uprightness cut off, Eliphaz affirms. People who sow trouble and plow iniquity reap the same (Job 4:11-14).  In agreeing and conforming to the statement put forth by Eliphaz, Bildad adds that “God will not cast off a blameless person, nor take forth the hand of wrongdoers” (Job 8:38). Zophar reiterates his friends’ views by adding that in the unlikely event that iniquity was in Job’s hands, he should not fear but be secure. “Your life will be clearer than midday; when it is dark, it will be like its morning” (Job 11-27-33). This kind of rational debate is referred to as syllogism, which denotes the submission of pragmatic thinking centered on two or more intentions presumed or emphasized to be correct. In this circumstance, the supposed reasoning is that there must be some form of sin or wrongdoing committed to merit the pain for a person to undergo suffering.

This kind of generality provided by Job’s three friends concerning the present situation of Job was poked with errors, as they were also oblivious of the discussion between Satan and God. This was in along with them failing to realize that the act of suffering is a kind of punishment and away, in the eyes of Almighty God of educating the people. Even Jesus, in one of his teachings, pointed out that people undergoing suffering do not signify it is a specific symbolism of judgment from God. Sometimes it was to pass out the message on the essence of repentance, where Job’s friends were wrong. To Job’s friends, it was essentially effortless to present intuition and understanding on the logic behind the suffering Job underwent since, according to them, they knew it was only through sinning that one was sure of undergoing suffering. According to them, if Job were blameless, he would not experience the kind of suffering he went through. It was much more straightforward for friends of Job, together with the people who lived in that era, to believe in the falsehoods compared to having to consent to an unknown, as in essence as this teaching from the Book of Job has demonstrated; the notion of the suffering of Job was tainted with all manner of falsehoods. Even if the unknown in this instance was pertinent in the example of Job, the conversation amongst Job’s friends persists with unending hostility as they decline to acknowledge their absence of proof when defending their arguments. Eliphaz states, “There is no ending to your ensuing iniquities” (Job 22:8). He affirmed that the suffering Job underwent due to him neglecting to provide water to the weary, withholding bread from those who were hungry, sending widows empty-handed without giving them anything, in addition to crushing the arms of the orphans (Job 22:11-15). These specific episodes with Zophar, Eliphaz, and Bildad were superbly created to convey how friends are willing and too easy to pass judgment, mainly in an ignorant way, without ascertaining the truth. In essence, there could be a reason why something is happening, and it is better to understand why particular things arise. This Book of Job ascertains that it is indeed true that God acts in mysterious ways, and Job is a principal proof.

A customary subject amongst philosophers and theologists is comparing the suffering Job underwent with other protagonists from the Holy Book, hoping that it will be crucial in helping them better understand the concept of suffering and how it pertains to Job. In most of these instances, the friends of Job would have been unequivocally justified by affirming that suffering is a form of direct punishment. It is conceivable to undergo suffering due to known reasons; nevertheless, this is not usually the case similar to Job. Job’s brain has just a limited capacity to comprehend effect and cause from his viewpoint or perspective. Despite the suffering, he underwent the Book of Job articulates the immense faith Job had towards God despite the underlying pressure to denounce God even from his wife. In essence, the perspective of God from Job’s point of view is that it is noticeably broader, meaning that He could allow or coordinate actions, which from one viewpoint appear ethically apprehensive, or just purely incorrect. In essence, God was mysterious in how He acted. Even though Job did not understand the actions of God, judging by the suffering he underwent despite his form belief in God’s ways, he did not forsake Him. He eventually understood that God enquires from His people’s trust, not merely understanding, as the acts of God are founded on wisdom, not justice. As it is clearly defined in the Book of Job, human suffering and pain do not usually arise as a distinct effect of the sin of anyone. Truly, there may not be a reason, or there could be a reason for God bestowing suffering among the people. God Himself was at the forefront of saying Job’s suffering was not merited for whatever reason (Job 2:3).

In conclusion, Job’s attitude at the end of the account is to critique the ability and knowledge of God are centered on the imperfect horizons of the experience he underwent, particularly during his suffering when he was deprived of his dignity, flocks, wealth, and family including the entirety of all his seven children. According to human limitations in questioning why God allowed him to undergo all that suffering, Job was right, yet he was faithful and loyal to him. The statement of Job is not proof that he is sincerely rejecting and retracting everything he articulated previously; he just had misgivings on why God was allowing him to suffer despite being faithful to Him. The response from God to Job did not seek to explain why virtuous people undergo suffering since the way God is He is not meant to stop righteous individuals from experiencing grief. Job was at the forefront of questioning God’s intent and design, but the response from God was that Job had limited knowledge to ask Him.

Additionally, Job was also at the forefront of questioning the extent of God’s justice. God answered him by saying that Job needed to trust Him. Job was not in place to think he could domesticate God to adapt to his weaker perceptions of how God ought to act. Job was apologetic and responded with humility and repentance after his demands that God provides him with a complete explanation of his suffering declined. Instead, God told him to trust Him since the character and wisdom of God will prevail. Job acknowledges that he went overboard by questioning God and apologizes for blaming God for prejudice and injustice. In the end, Job got back all he had lost, including his children; the only unfortunate thing was that his children were not the same as before.

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