When dealing with pain in suffering, something we all face, Christians often bring up Job. I often hear the phrase “what about Job”. My response is “what about Job”? I have no problem with Job. I think we must take all of scripture and rightly divide it. I think it is all important. My problem is that it seems to me a lot of Christians place a whole lot of emphasis on Job and base major parts of their theology and doctrine on Job. However, I have found very few Christians seem to really understand Job. It is a complicated book to dissect for sure and I certainly don’t consider myself an expert, but I would like to touch on a few reason why I think it is dangerous ground to use Job as a basis for major parts of our theology, or to quote Job himself and use his words as inerrant proof text of God’s role in suffering in our lives.
I think we need to be very careful how we interpret Job. One of the most often quoted versus in Job is “God gives and takes away”. An understanding of the book of Job and his place in this world I believe gives more clarity to how we can interpret these scriptures.
Job first of all is a narrative, nothing more. Also Job had ZERO covenant with God, none whatsoever. He did not have the law, and did not live under covenant with God. Also, Job had no scripture to rely on and learn the things of God. These are key points because later in the book God charges Job with making incorrect statements and Job admits he said things that were not true.
We have to understand that just because someone says something in the Bible does not make it truth. There are plenty of examples of this. It is true that they said it, but not necessarily a true statement. Christians very often rely on this scripture and Job in general to explain suffering in this world.
I think most people miss the mark greatly on suffering and calamity. I think attributing it to God is a direct ploy of our enemy Satan. I know that kind of talk isn’t always received well, but it saddens me that people attribute bad things in their life to God and rarely talk about our enemy the devil. I think the devil loves this and uses it to his advantage. Christians so rarely understand their authority in this life, and as a result they do not confront their real enemy head on. To me it is a an easy way out to just attribute bad things to God, and say things like it is for “his glory” or “well God must be wanting to show me something through this sickness/trial”. That isn’t the Jesus I know. Jesus was and is the healer. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is our provider and we are not living under the law of the old covenant. We are redeemed from the curse of the law.
Frankly, if you believe in your theology that bad things (sickness/calamity) come from God, and that God may or may not heal you then I believe your faith suffers. I don’t see how it can’t. I would rather believe with all my heart, in all my doctrine and theology that God is going to heal me (in fact already has healed me through the work of Christ on the cross), that he is going to see me through whatever trial I am facing, and that through it I will learn and grow in my faith and walk with him, not because he was the author of it, but because He is teaching me as He guides and shows me the way out of it. I will give Him glory in the victory. For the sake of clarity I am not talking about persecution and suffering for being a Christian and for spreading the gospel. The scripture is very clear that we will suffer for His names sake.
Furthermore, OT folks (including Job) didn’t have the H.S. living on the inside of them. They didn’t have the covering of Jesus blood. They did not have Jesus interceding for them. WE DO!! Praise God. We were “raised with Him and seated in heavenly places”. That means now, not to come, but now. “He was given all authority for the benefit of the church which is his body”. We are the body of Christ today, right now. The power that flows through Him is flowing in us. We are joint heirs, sons and daughters, kings and lords. Jesus is our King and He is our head. If my head is Jesus my feet are full of power. Knowing God sent His only son for my redemption, knowing Jesus is the healer, knowing I am redeemed and a son of God, a joint heir, who am I to say God is allowing calamity or sickness in my life, after all He has done for me when I was yet a sinner? I can’t and I won’t. When I stand before Him I would rather be wrong in the fact that I believed that all good came from Him and he never “allowed” or put bad things upon me.
Sidebar: “allow” is a big word that can mean a lot of things. I will post on this in the future, but for the sake of this conversation “allow” means: was instrumental in taking his hand of provision off of us in order that we would face a trial so we could grow.
I would rather stand before Him and say father I know you loved me, and I never attributed the trials of my life to you. I didn’t always understand them, and I sought your guidance, your grace, your wisdom, and your strength to see me through them, and in the victory I gave YOU the glory.
It is very important for us to understand that as believers today we do have a covenant with God, and it is not just the new covenant but the perfection of the old. Under that covenant we are covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and that blood covers us from the wrath of God. That doesn’t mean we don’t open the door for bad in our lives through sin, and that doesn’t mean that the devil doesn’t attack us, he surely does. So trials, calamity and sickness can surely come our way. We live in a fallen world where sin is prevalent and the devil is still the prince of this world, but he no longer has that authority over Christians because he has been defeated. We have to exercise our authority though or he will continue to attack us and defeat us.
Finally I would like to make one last point about Job. Jesus, Paul, and Peter never mention Job in the N.T. In all their teaching and quoting the O.T. none of them felt it necessary to mention Job even when talking about suffering and perseverance. James does mention Job, but it is important to note that he mentions him as an illustration of God’s faithfulness to bring us out of trial, not put us through it.
In closing I will re-iterate that we must be careful to rightly divide the whole Word of Truth. All scripture is inspired by God, and is important, but that means measuring and weighing scripture in light of it all. With this in mind I think many Christians are clinging way too hard to Job. So again I say “what about Job”?
Authors note: Portions of this post were taken from a comment I left on another blog.