When good people suffer, we struggle to understand why God doesn’t intervene. One way we respond intellectually to these events is by being curious, asking questions about why God allowed such evil. What we need in those moments is a conversation with a friend or trusted mentor. (More on this response tomorrow!) However, when we are in the midst of the pain, reeling from the hurt and feeling bombarded on every side, what we need in these moments is someone to just listen; we need to be heard. Unfortunately, when others around us can’t recognize that, they offer up their well-meaning answers and explanations, sometimes adding to the pain instead of alleviating it.
An example of this very situation can be found in the Old Testament, in the book of Job. Job was a godly man whom the Lord had blessed with a large family, good health, and many riches. Satan accused Job of having shallow faith, suggesting that his faith in God was strong only because his life was good.
8 Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”
9 Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. 10 You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11 But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
12 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.
When God allows Satan to test Job, Job’s response is to tear his clothes, shave his head, and sit in ashes—a completely broken man. His friends come to comfort him; and, at first, they recognize their friend needs no words, only their presence (Job 2:13). As Job begins to pour out his heart in anguish, they simply listen (Job 3). However, in chapter 4 they open their mouths and begin a dialogue with Job that lasts for 35 chapters, spewing advice, challenges, and platitudes. At one point, Job even pleads with them, “If only you could be silent! That’s the wisest thing you could do” (Job 13:5).
The story of Job is a great example of our need to be heard when we are hurting. As Job was grieving, he needed to give voice to the pain. It was important for him to be able to ask his questions out loud, to share his sorrows with others, and to let his anger out.
In the end, God responded to Job and restored him. He rewarded him with a new depth of understanding of who God is. Job says, “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes” (Job 42:5), demonstrating that God blesses those who seek him.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
When we are experiencing hurt in our life, we have an opportunity to listen to Satan, the accuser, who is telling us that our faith is too shallow and that our questions are sinful, or we can go straight to God who listens when we need to be heard. If we choose to seek God in our pain, we will come to know him more.
Reread Job 1:8-12. Why did God allow Satan to test Job? Why did God allow Job to suffer – to lose his possessions, his children, and his health?
Are you currently hurting from a circumstance in your life? Do you recognize your need to be heard?
How easy is it for you to talk to other people about suffering, sickness, and sadness? How can Job’s story help you to take that next step?
Find a friend or mentor to talk to this week. Have an open conversation about how the topic of suffering, sickness, and sadness makes you feel and the impact it has on your life. Share a specific situation that is weighing heavily on your heart.
Dear God, thank you for the story of Job. Although we do not always understand why good people must go through hardships, the Bible is clear that you are not the cause of our suffering. Help me find another Christian whom I can talk to about suffering, sadness, and sickness. Help me to yield to you and to always trust in you, no matter what the circumstances you allow in my life. Amen.
This post was written by Kaye Althaus. Kaye loves to read and do crafts with friends. She and her husband live in the quiet country and raise chickens.
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