Today’s reading begins the section in the book of Job that spreads from chapter 4 to chapter 25. This section is infamous because of the unsympathetic reaction of his friends. Instead of meeting Job in his suffering, they are accusing him in his suffering. The key verse and accusation comes in verse 17: “‘Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?” (ESV) In the coming chapters, we will see Job’s friends asking Job if there are hidden sins in his life that he should repent from. The underlying assumption is that the reason for his suffering is because God is punishing Job.
So it begs the question: is our suffering because of our sin? If you’ve been reading through Job with us this far, you know that God allowed the suffering of Job, not because of sin in the life of Job, but to show that Job truly loved and obeyed God for God, not the good things God provided in his life. So no, God does not cause us to suffer because of our sin. (Although God does not cause us to suffer because of our sin, suffering does sometimes come as a result of our sin.) So while we can logically agree that we do not suffer because of our sin, how often do we functionally act like he does?
Read what 1 Peter 4:12-16 says:
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. (ESV)
This passage is in the context of suffering for the sake of Christ, but the principle remains: when we suffer, it is not because God is punishing; to the contrary, when we suffer we identify with Christ, and are reminded of the suffering he went through so that we might have a true relationship with Him through belief and repentance.
By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Associate