Ever wondered why bad things happen to God’s people?
When you think about this, a name that readily comes to mind in the bible is Job.
The story of Job opens with a strong statement of his credentials. He was faithful; he was upright. He feared God and eschewed evil. He was a man who had great possessions to the point he was tagged ‘the greatest of all the men in the east’.
He wasn’t one who’d allow riches turn him away from God. He was different. He was in a class of his own. God’s verdict about him was that, ‘there is none like him in the earth’.
A Strange Turn of Events
In spite of this enviable status, he experienced a series of calamities, probably unheard of until then. Marauders carted off his five hundred oxen, three thousand camels and five hundred donkeys. The raid resulted in the murder of some servants while the others were burnt in an inferno. The same fire consumed his seven thousand sheep. That same day, he lost all his ten children to a building collapse.
Days after, he was afflicted with painful incurable sores all over his body. Job’s predicament was so grievous his friends could hardly recognize him. They sat down with him seven days and nights and could not utter a word!With all these, it is not hard to see why his wife told him to curse God and die.
Why Did God Allow Such Misfortune?
Although He was not the actor wrecking the havoc, (Job thought He was), if He did not permit it, it would not have happened (Job 1:9-12; Job 2:4-6). That’s why the accuser could not operate beyond the limit he was given.
But the question that bothers is, why would God allow so much calamity befall His beloved? What did God stand to gain from the entire drama?
The Hidden Mystery of God’s Will and Pleasure
To understand God’s side of the whole story, the reality of His will and pleasure must first dawn on us. God has a will and He does whatever pleases Him*. For whatever He does or permits, He has His intents and purposes. Sometimes, He makes this clear to us. But more often than not, He doesn’t.
Sometimes, we realize His purpose after the dust has settled. At other times, we never find a clue – we only figure it out when we cross to the other side. This is what it turned out to be for Job. Only upon getting to heaven would Job have comprehended the entire episode.
Never in this life would he have had a clue of what transpired in the making of the tragedy that befell him. In fact, God gave no hint when he eventually broke silence and spoke to Job and his friends.
Pushed to the Wall Yet Steadfast: An Example God Wanted to Display
In his case, God wanted to show to the devil (and to us today, who read the story), that it is possible for a man’s devotion to Him to be so unwavering, that regardless of what happens, such would not lose his commitment to Him.
What a way to do so – allowing the reduction of the greatest man around to zilch! Of course, what evidence could be more potent and illustrative of God’s argument! If the greatest man around (by all standards) was brought to nothing, and his wife and allies were ‘manipulated’ against him yet he kept his faith in God; there remains no more argument for the devil! Neither do we have any alibi.
In doing this, He left us a perpetual example – that we can also stand with God when our entire world is crumbling right before our eyes and we can’t seem to fathom what is happening behind the scene.
An Open Exposure of the Devil’s Folly: The Satisfaction of God’s Pleasure
God desired to show this reality, not because the devil deserved any attention, but to authenticate his folly. The Devil in all his craftiness was always going to be no match for God’s wisdom and knowledge.
He was foolish enough to think that everyone who worshipped God would back out when everything turned sour, but God knew better and proved it, thereby satisfying His (God’s) pleasure by the revelation of His transcendence and wisdom.
Proving God Right Before His Enemy
What a privilege Job had to be the man to prove God right in a debate of powers. When he eventually uncovers what transpired, how glad he will be to know He did not let God down when He depended on him the most. The devil would have mocked God to scorn had Job fumbled.
That God could repose enormous confidence in Job is something to ponder about. It is a radical challenge for us. If we were to be in his shoes, would we be able to go all the way?
God’s Purpose is Always Good
All’s well that ends well’, is the popular saying. But we must not think all ends well only when our fortunes are restored here on earth. Sometimes, things may not necessarily turn around – maybe they do, but not the way we want them to.
Sometimes, we may only be able to say all’s well that ends well, at the end of it all, when we are clothed with the celestial and receive perfect understanding of the whole picture.
Both are true in Job’s case.
Yet through it all, one thing remained unchanged: God’s thoughts for him. They were still thoughts of peace – not of evil(Jeremiah 29:11). That is why from the outset, He placed a limit on how far the enemy could go; and in the end, He gave him a double portion of all he lost.
How often we think God no longer cares about us. But He does!
‘When you pass through deep waters He will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you; when you pass through fire you will not be burnt and the hard trials that come will not hurt you’ (Isaiah 43:2 GNB).
That is because you are precious to him. Yes, you are! If you ask Job, he will confess how real this turned out when his fortunes were restored.
*Revelation 4:11; Luke 10:21; Matthew 3:17, 17:5, Psalms 115:3, 135:6; Ephesians 1:5, 9,11; Daniel 4:34-35
Job 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 11, 16, 38 – 42
2 Kings 4:27
Matthew 13:22; 19:16-26
1 Timothy 6:6-10