Bildad, the Shuhite (arguably, the shortest guy in the Bible… go back and read that again… the Shoe-hight?) Anyway… Bildad, one of Jobs friends had just laid out a great argument. One that suffering people must endure a lot. The argument is this: the wicked are punished and the righteous are rewarded.
Job absolutely agrees with Bildad, because that was conventional wisdom, but that was not Job’s experience. He knew that he was a general sinner. Of course, there is none that are perfect. But was job living in unrepentant blatant sin? No. He searched his heart. He could find nothing of which he was guilty. He had already said that if there was a sin in his life that he couldn’t see, then he asked God to forgive him. (Job 7:21-22)
Even without ‘friends’ like this to point out our shortcomings, we have an enemy and a mind that constantly puts these thoughts into our heads when we are suffering. A person might come to Christ and then get diagnosed with cancer or lose their finances or get fired from their job or their child might die. Immediately the thought goes to, “What did I do? What sin did I commit?” It must have been that lustful thought I had last week, or because I listened to secular music, or because I didn’t tithe. God is now angry with me and therefore, I am now under his condemnation. I must be a horrible sinner for God to afflict me with such a terrible trial!
I had my kids tell me that one of their friends told them that I was a terrible sinner because I was diagnosed with cancer and only sinners get diseases. Righteous people are never sick. People who are full of faith never struggle with finances. He would have made Job’s friends proud.
But this is exactly what the book of Job refutes. We know that Job was not a horrible sinner under the judgment of God. In fact, God Himself declares Job’s righteousness. (See Job 1:8; 2:3 and 42:7-8) Conventional wisdom would always say that if you are wicked you will be judged and if you are righteous you will be rewarded. But that is not always the case. At least in this world. It is a SMALL MAN that thinks the worse in others, even though they are righteous. (You see what I did there? Shoe-hight… ‘Small man’ ANYWAY)
If you are suffering today with a disease or any other pain and are a believer in Jesus Christ, know that your sin has been washed at the cross. You are not under the judgment or condemnation of God. (See Romans 8:1) There are many reasons for suffering. Some of them are self-inflicted. For instance, if you used to go out and get drunk every night you are probably going to have liver problems. If you are constantly gambling you can expect to have financial problems, and if you married and have a family, you will destroy those relationships.
However, these are not the judgments for sin, but the consequences of sin. There is a difference. Have you repented? God has cleansed you. Will there still be consequences, perhaps. But you are free from the judgment of God. Job’s problem wasn’t some blatant sin. His problem is that he could not see God in his suffering. One thing I know is that I can endure A LOT if I know that God is with me and I am walking in the will of God. If I feel forsaken or am deceived into believing that I am under the judgment of God, then my endurance and hope will cease. I think this is where Job was for a very long time during the dialog with his friends.
May the LORD richly bless you with His intimate presence, knowing that your sin is removed. May you understand how much God loves you and is with you, even in your suffering. He is not vindictive, waiting to destroy you because you have sinned. Actually, He is waiting for you to come to Him and change your mind about His greatness and His mercy. May you know Him in your suffering. May you see Him in your pain.