Pain doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong; it means you are living. Bad things happen and not always because you did something to ‘earn’ it.

Some people think because you are suffering (especially Christians) that you have automatically done something to earn it. These folks have somehow ignored the book of Job, and – more specifically – Job’s friends. Suffering is a part of life; it is a mystery of God’s universe. And it doesn’t always align with our moral decisions.

Job was a wealthy, blessed man, and after the worst cataclysm, he was left without his family, his wealth, and all his earthly possessions. And so his friends descended upon him to speak judgment because – of course – God only allows suffering upon the wicked.

And this video so beautifully outlines the book of Job (so much better than I could):

When we become like Job’s friends – who decide that God is judging a moral failing rather than just embracing our friend in their suffering – we become clueless, unwise. And we know how Job felt about these so-called friends.

4 You, however, smear me with lies;
you are worthless physicians, all of you!

5 If only you would be altogether silent!
For you, that would be wisdom.

6 Hear now my argument;
listen to the pleas of my lips.

7 Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf?
Will you speak deceitfully for him?

8 Will you show him partiality?
Will you argue the case for God?

9 Would it turn out well if he examined you?
Could you deceive him as you might deceive a mortal?

10 He would surely call you to account
if you secretly showed partiality.

11 Would not his splendor terrify you?
Would not the dread of him fall on you?

12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;
your defenses are defenses of clay.

(Job 13:4-12)

We are our best as friends when we are with people in their suffering, not as teachers or preachers; but when we are silent, calming forces of love. When we love we are a salve on their wounds, when we correct we are salt. And sometimes salt is needed, but most of the time it is just heaping pain on top of more pain.

2 thoughts on “The Mysteries of Suffering and Pain

  1. This is great, Rob. Somehow, despite what scripture teaches, we are stuck on a notion of petty, punitive and punishing God. It is true that sometimes our suffering is a result of unwise choices by ourselves or others. I read once that “we are punished by our sins, not for our sins.” I believe that to be true.

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