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In the book of Job, God portrays the Christian sufferers and how he interprets agony from his perspective. Job makes distinctions for us regarding suffering and God also makes promises to his people after the end of their torture. Job questions God on how he lets people suffer and why he chooses to let them be in pain. There are no faults in his life that would’ve led him to distress. Job’s piety is what attracts this unwanted attention, and it leads him to misery. Suffering is not necessarily a punishment, but it is seen as guilt. Job portrays this guilt factor by demonstrating that even the most righteous people can be anguished. Job experiences many hardships in his life including losing his wife, children, and fortune. Despite these traumatic situations, he chooses to not curse God. When he gets a visit from his friends, they try to make him feel better. Job wants us to avoid the torture of our friends who are suffering. We can either blame them for the pain they are experiencing or decrease their tragedy by teaching them a moral lesson. Job does not accept his friend’s explanations for his suffering and he is in despair. Job wants answers from God about why bad occurrences happen to good people.
Sometimes, God allows trauma to occur in our lives without any sins and it is not meant to teach us a lesson. Rather, it brings us closer in our relationship to him. We become more attached to God and open ourselves up to his love. Any kind of loss we receive in our life will bring us in accordance with God’s will. He wants us to never give up hope on him and continue to stay true to ourselves. God wants his people to keep their bond with him and not disconnect. The Accuser predicted that Job would curse and turn away from God, but he blessed him. Job chose not to cut off his relationship and stay close to God. This is what God expects of us is to not lose faith in him. God explains how trauma happens and sometimes there are no answers. There is a mystery to life and death that we cannot begin to comprehend. We are not allowed to understand how our world works. Trauma will happen even to good people and there is no reason why. God still respects Job and responds to him. We, like Job, must experience suffering and not know the reasoning behind it. The book of Job asks, “why good people suffer,” but it never gets answered. Humans often want to hear easy answers to their questions but that is not how life works. Trauma just happens, and we can’t do anything about it. God wants us to accept the fact that all people can suffer, but they can gain wisdom or courage from it.
Job has different responses to suffering. There was an incident with his sons and daughters being struck by the falling house. After all of this happened, Job did not commit any sins or do anything spiteful towards God. Another example comes from 2:9 when his wife wants him to condemn God, but Job did not do as he was told. In 2:11-13, Job’s friends heard of the events that happened to Job and did their best to make him feel better. His friends could tell that Job had been suffering and could not speak to him. One of his friends, Eliphaz, wants to offer hope to Job. He encourages him to be brave in fear of God. He emphasizes that no one is more righteous than God. Eliphaz wants Job to gain trust in God. His other friend, Zophar, gives Job a critique for his courage in his righteousness. Job also has a secret sin that he needs to tell and repudiate.
In 13: 23-24, Job imagines that God was ignoring his faithfulness and acting like he was an enemy. He did reach a certain point though where he confessed after death he would view God as the Redeemer. Job thought God was not treating him like a friend or child. He then complains to God in 23: 3-4 and 24:1 by saying he would find God and have lots to say to him and “those who know him never see his days.” His three friends assume that the intensity of Job’s suffering had to do with a sin in his life. Job can silence his friends by telling them there is no connection between right-mindedness and wealth or evil and sorrow.
Job has his final defense in chapter 31 when he explains how God used to keep him safe and guide him, and he received suffering that he didn’t deserve. His trauma will be laid out in front of God. He can confront God face to face. Job will address his demons and be able to pour out what he is feeling inside. He thinks God is out to kill him though. He believes the world is unjust and, in the present, he is witnessing chaos. Job stays committed to social justice while all of this is going on.
In chapters 32-37, Job’s friend Elihu scolds Job and his other friends. These friends of Job cannot explain the suffering of him through theology. Elihu believes that Job is imperfect, but he is loved immensely by God. Job’s sufferings were portrayed to show Satan and armies of heaven that Job admired God more than his possessions, health, and family. Once Job showed that he truly loved God, then there was another meaning behind God letting his suffering last longer. The reason for this is so God can cleanse the pride left over in his life. Job was affected by the suffering and this pride still inside him tried to justify itself at the expense of God.
The main reasoning behind Job’s suffering is to portray God’s value and glory, while polishing the righteousness of Job. The suffering he experienced was not any kind of punishment. Getting rid of the pride left inside was something loving God could do. Towards the ending of Elihu’s speech, a storm takes place, and he admires it. He has a sense of the presence of God and hears his voice speaking to him. The words of God in chapters 38-41 are not criticizing Elihu. In chapter 40, God takes a pause to let Job have an opportunity to respond. The case gets pushed back even further in 40:6-9 when he speaks out of the whirlwind once again. Job does not receive any real answers but is given many questions. Job is put in place by God and he says to Job that he hears and sees him. God says to Eliphaz the Temanite that he had not spoken rightly of God like Job has. Since Job prayed for his friends, he got all his fortunes restored to him. Even though he went through a lot of traumas, he didn’t push God away and eventually gained important aspects back in his life. He witnessed different losses and had to deal with his emotions. This teaches us a lesson that no matter how much agony we experience, there is still going to be a light at the end of the tunnel. We must stay connected to God despite the significant impacts on our lives. Job continues to have trust and determination after the grief of his losses.
Three ways Job responds to suffering is by using his hope, faith, and perseverance. He continues to have hope through all his trauma. He uses his faith to stay true to his character and God. Job perseveres through the agony and continues listening to others. Even though Job could’ve easily closed his friends and God off right away, he kept his ears open and heard what they had to say. The book of Job shows us that our character is far more important than the pain we experience in life. God put Job’s character to the test to see if Job’s commitment would change with adversity. People will go through challenging times, but we must be patient while waiting for our issues to be resolved. This book also teaches that not everything in life is fair and equal. Job resented God while he was experiencing trauma and often many people do this. This makes me think about the Holocaust because so many people questioned the role of God or if he was real. People wondered how God could let so many people get killed and families be separated. In the Holocaust Theology we read, there were some accounts that denied the existence of God. It is hard to believe that God would let bad occurrences happen to people. This goes back to my idea of sometimes there is no reasoning behind trauma. It can just happen without any warnings or signs. Trauma is unpredictable and there is no way to prepare for it. Same with death, it is a part of life, and we cannot control when people die. Death is on its own time clock, and we do not have power over it.
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