The story of Job is a human one. It’s one that everyone can connect with on some level. We’ve all hurt. We’ve all lost. We’ve all felt the fallenness of this world. And because of that shared experience of suffering, God tells us this story of His glory. Many of us see God’s glory in the goodness of things, as we should, but we often struggle to see God’s glory and purpose in suffering. Job helps.
We are introduced to Job as the “ideal Christian” or at least what many of us believe the ideal Christian should be. Job is morally good. Job is prosperous. Job is religious. Job is safe, comfortable, and nothing in his behavior would suggest any of that would change. There is no reason why anyone would guess based on his intro why he would be a candidate for suffering like he does. And that’s one of the most relatable things we find in the book of Job. We tend to believe that being good will save us from suffering. We tend to believe that God is working hard on our behalf to ensure our comfort, especially when we’re good. The truth is that God’s glory is most effectively seen in our struggle. And Scripture testifies to this truth over and over again.
This sounds like cruelty on God’s part. He would let us get comfortable, feel like things are going well, and then pull the rug out from under us. And if our hearts were consistently trusting Him in the midst of prosperity, He would be cruel. But the reality is that the human heart often drifts towards self-righteousness when we are most comfortable. We get into a routine and begin to believe that our behavior has led us to such blessing. We believe our work has earned us the right enjoy the things that are passing away. We believe our merit has purchased our security. In short, we quickly give glory to ourselves when things start to go well. God has a purpose in suffering: to reset our proud hearts toward Him.
The introduction to Job is not to be taken from the context of the book. We are not to set His example up as a goal for our lives. Job before suffering is to help us remember that our treasure is not here. The rest of the story is to remind us that we serve a God who will graciously and relationally remind us of this. Our God is good and does good (Psalm 119:68) and in His goodness does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). When He is pleased to allow suffering in our lives, may we be ready to turn to Him in the midst of it. This is what His Word teaches us. May our hearts find rest in Him.