When we suffer, our natural instinct is to shake our fist at God and ask, “why is this happening to me?” That’s not necessarily a bad thing — God can take it — but we shouldn’t stop there.

Think about that guy we meet in the Old Testament: Job.

  • His seven sons and three daughters all died in an instant.
  • All of his livestock died and his wealth vanished overnight.
  • He was covered in open sores from the top of his head to the soles of his feet.
  • He became repulsive to his wife.
  • His brothers and little children avoided him.

Job was at the center of suffering. But even in the midst of all of this, this is what he says to those who say he should curse God and commit suicide:

“Keep silent and let me speak;
then let come to me what may.
Why should I take my flesh in my teeth
and put my life in my hand?
Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;
I will surely defend my ways to his face.
Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance,
for no godless person would dare come before him!” Job 13:13—16

This little passage shows remarkable theological depth and clarity. Job declares:

  • It is not right for me to take my own life (God is in charge of when I go, even as I am suffering).
  • God has the right to do what he wants to me in this life, even if that something is suffering.
  • Even if God is the cause of my suffering, I will have hope.
  • Even when I have hope, I am going to defend myself to God.

That’s really cool.

He is essentially saying, “I don’t think I have done anything wrong to deserve this and I am going to tell God that. I’m gonna tell him to his face! I don’t think I have been godless, I don’t think I am in the wrong. I don’t understand what is happening to me and I am gonna say it!

At the same time, Job was confident that “this will turn out for my deliverance.”

What does he mean?

He knew he would be vindicated. He truly believed that he had lived the kind of life God wanted from him and he wasn’t going to stop because he was suffering. He wasn’t going to curse God or stop following him just because he was in pain. Job believed his faith would be vindicated by continuing to hope in God through the suffering.

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