Although the book of Job addresses a couple of issues, the predominant theme is that of evil and suffering. The book provides an important insight with regard to these issues. It expounds on evil and suffering in a manner that informs the readers of the uniqueness of spiritual agony. Additionally, it inspires individuals not to be troubled by Almighty God’s silence regarding their suffering as this would only lead to despair, a situation, which would then make their lives to lose meaning. The book explicates a couple of reasons why suffering and evil afflict individuals. For instance, despite his piousness, Job experienced great calamities in his life. The disasters began with the slaying of his servants. Moments later, his camels were driven away by the Chaldeans. Having witnessed the magnitude of Job’s suffering, Bildad and a couple of his friends saw the afflictions as a form of retributive justice. Nevertheless, as one peruses the book of Job, it is evident that the subject considered his suffering a mystery. It is, however, captivating to realize that despite the misconception, Job chose to remain faithful to Almighty God (Crenshaw 2010, 97).
The book of Job serves as a clear illustration on how the devil utilizes evil and suffering in an endeavor to create a rift between individuals and God. Nevertheless, readers come to realize that despite his cunning nature, the devil cannot act beyond the limits set by Almighty God. In fact, Job realized that the suffering that he endured had been allowed to glorify the Lord. The book refutes a long held belief that every suffering and affliction by evil results as a divine retribution as a result of sins committed. Before Job had undergone the unprecedented suffering, there was a widespread belief that an individual cannot undergo unmerited suffering (Dell 1991, 6-8). To individuals, every evil and suffering was comprehensible. In instances where people could not comprehend evil and suffering, they attributed the two to witchcraft. The book is an illustration of how individuals ought to respond to evil and suffering. This paper addresses the issue of evil in the book of Job.
The book of Job appears to be a comprehensive account of individuals’ suffering, especially when suffering afflicts the innocent. The book illustrates the manner in which Job endured an incoherent suffering that had resulted from irrationality of evil. Nevertheless, despite being a central item in the story of Job, a couple of critics have argued that the book’s account of evil and suffering is not definitive enough. In fact, some critics have asserted that the book arouses a couple of questions with regard to suffering (Estes 2010, 139). However, the book is widely considered as an illustration of how human beings should relate with God. This is because of the manner in which the book examines the issues of doubt and faith.
In spite of the suffering, Job remained faithful to God. His endurance was inspired by the faith and trust that he had in God, who he regarded as all-powerful and intimate. Job was honest, and his life reveals a number of aspects with regard to human suffering. One of the aspects is that, at times, suffering is used to demonstrate the grace of God as well as the believers’ faith. This means that humanity’s prosperity ideologies are irrelevant when it comes to the Lord’s gracious plans. The book acts as an important insight to human perseverance. It helps refute the misconceptions about evil and suffering, especially when the victim appears to be innocent.
According to the Bible, the affliction of Job had multiple dimensions. He suffered physically, socially, emotionally, as well as spiritually. Despite his innocence, Job lost his family and wealth in one day (Job 1: 13-14). He then acquired a dreadful disease (Job 2: 7). The disease resulted into his alienation from a community that had once respected him greatly. He was forced to sit in ashes and dirt outside walls of his home city (Job 2:8). The servant of Almighty God became a subject of reproach, a laughing stock. A number of his former friends doubted his innocence (Job 6: 14-23). He was anguished, rejected and dismayed. His heart suffered from loneliness, uncertainty and fear. He lost his inner placidity (Job 3: 26), a situation which made him groan in bitterness (Job 7: 11; Job 27:2). All these tribulations were augmented by the lord’s silence.
At one time, Job hoped for an explanation from the Lord, but he didn’t get any. His afflictions instigated the feeling of meaningless of life as justice, relief and purpose appeared elusive. Job discerned nothing good for the rest of his life on earth. In spite of all these trials, Job did not doubt the Grace of God. This book legitimates the quest meaning and understanding of life, especially when confronted by evil and suffering. In effect, this makes individuals emotionally mature (Lucas 2008, 117).
The book of Job indicates that suffering may not necessarily imply the physical pain that individuals suffer. For instance, when someone is ostracized, he/she suffers emotionally. In the case of Job, the subject suffered without adequate knowledge of the reasons behind the tribulations. He did not comprehend the reason behind his suffering (Brown). Most of his former acquaintances believed that he, Job, suffered as a result of some hidden sins (Job 5: 7-11). Many argued that the children were killed as a result of these hidden sins. These rumors were spread by Eliphaz and Bildad, two of the people that were supposed to trust Job. Nevertheless, the book’s accounts do not support the views of Bildad and Eliphaz.
Job is presented as an ethically steady man who does not condone wickedness. Indeed, at a later section, the book indicates that Job was upright and blameless (Job 8). Moreover, the three friends who had defamed him are condemned by Almighty God (Job 42: 7-8). These confirmations refute the notions that Job suffering was as a result of sin (Tambasco et al 2001, 50-55). Job never understood the cause of his suffering. The book is not intended to uncover the meaning of the suffering, but to illustrate the importance of endurance.
According to the book of Job, Almighty God was not the cause of Job’s suffering. However, the book records that God permitted the tribulations. Satan was the causal agent to all the challenges that Job underwent. However, these tribulations were in the limits of the Lord’s sanction. This account, therefore, discredits dualism. Reading the book gives us hope. This is because we are made to understand that no suffering goes beyond the Lord’s sanctions. Job understood that fact, and for this reason, he was able to outmaneuver the devil. His faith was without illusion, and such conviction made him overcome senseless chaos.
The devil plagued Job with an intention of tempting him to disobey the Lord. The devil’s intention was harmful, as it represented conflicts and hostility. In the case of Job, it is evident that his purposes were in contradiction with biblical piety. Had Job been deceived, he would have lost an opportunity to enjoy the rewards of righteousness. This is because disloyalty could have amounted to hostility to the will of God (Boss 2010, 20-22). Job disagreed with his wife when the latter insisted that disobedience would provide a quick solution to the tribulations. He remained obedient to the Lord despite the misapprehension of his suffering. The book of Job illustrates that there exists instances of unmerited suffering. The book, however, does not rule out suffering as a result of wrong doing.
In contrast with the views of Job’s friends, the endurance of Job leads to the belief that God allow suffering with a reason. The book emphasizes on proper response depending on the prevailing circumstances. It illustrates the importance of reflection and self-examination, and the manner in which the two practices help a person to turn to the Lord in the face of adversities (Job 11: 13-19; Job 22: 21-30). The book of Job refutes the notion of false piety. The accounts of the book indicate that it is not evil or sinful to lament in the face of despair. As Job searched for respite in his suffering, he sought an answer to his tribulations from God.
Satan attempted to utilize evil in a manner that could reduce Job’s commitment to the Lord. Nevertheless, Job was strong enough to remain steadfast. He even disregarded the idea of cursing God, and as a result, the Lord blessed him (Bakon). On his part, Job found it prudent to repent of his attitude of requiring an answer from God. As such, his faith prevailed over evil.
Through endurance of evil and afflictions, Job pleased God. He realized that only the power of God can redeem an individual from evil. The book of Job facilitates the realization that God has intimate awareness of everything that happens to us. The power of God helped Job triumph over evil (Murphy 2002, 30). The manner in which Job triumphed over evil indicates that the relationship between man and God is based on sovereign Grace. This Grace is what accords justice its meaning. As such, every time that relational and rational effort fails us, it is always better to turn to God in faith and honesty.
The account of suffering in the book of Job indicates that, at time, the world is unfair. During the times of Job, traditional wisdom failed to explain Job’s afflictions. The tribulations of Job and his eventual relief suggest that humanity can only find purpose and meaning in life by establishing personal relationships with God (Raymond 2011). This is because punishment for the sinful and reward for the pious do not always follow a fixed doctrine. Human understanding of recompense/retribution is not compatible with the divine interpretation of circumstances. Jobs faith in God enabled him to acknowledge that fact, and despite the suffering, his piety made him lead a moral life, a life that was free of unfounded claims and false hopes.
The book of Job suggests that believers are obliged to examine their motivations so as to enable them serve God with diligence, especially in times of suffering and trials. It helps clear the misconception that all forms of suffering are induced by our sinful nature. In fact, God may choose to discipline, guide, direct, and teach through suffering. He may also allow suffering to afflict individuals for the same reasons, as it happened to Job. As such, God’s plans are not manipulated by the systems devised by mankind in their explanation of cursing and blessing (Dell 1991, 6-9). This is because, as the Supreme Authority, He is not obliged to operate under any stipulation. Understanding this reality enables individuals to evaluate their suffering based on God’s grace.
The question as to why suffering afflicts the righteous does not have a simple response. Human suffering is diverse, and individuals suffer for varied reasons. Nevertheless, suffering is meant to teach individuals the importance of focusing on the future glory. Individuals learn how to be patient, obedient, and sympathetic to those in pain. In essence, suffering is an encouragement for the people to live in faith and to abide by God’s gracious doctrines. Through suffering, individuals are barred from arrogance as it acts as a demonstration that God is the absolute sovereign of all His creatures. By allowing suffering, God revealed Himself to His servant Job (Dell 1991, 11-15). He taught Job that a righteous relationship is not necessarily earned by mankind. On the contrary, God is at liberty to act in which ever manner that he wishes as He is the sovereign who is uncontrolled by human understanding.
In conclusion, the suffering of Job indicates that suffering is not always a resultant of sin. Additionally, individuals would be challenging God if they accept false dogmas with regard to suffering. The acceptance of these dogmas may provoke a person to blame God. Job trusted God, and as such, he embraced the incomprehensible with love and hope. Job understood that Satan utilizes such false concepts in his endeavor to weaken the faith of the righteous. Through suffering, God made job to realize that human beings miscomprehend occurrences in life (Delitzsch 1866, 7-13). The suffering of Job as well as the ultimate relief helps the believers to see the need for linking their lives with the Lord’s purpose. Job and those around him realized that people do not have to comprehend everything in their endeavor to live a pious life. This is because the blessings of God are based on grace and not on a legalistic formula.