In today’s reading, we see Job’s response to his friend Eliphaz. Eliphaz came to Job with a message that was meant to be helpful. Eliphaz reasoned that, since Job was suffering, he must have done something wrong. Read what he says a couple chapters earlier in Job 4, verses 7 through 8:
7 “Stop and think! Do the innocent die? When have the upright been destroyed? 8 My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.”
Job knows that he has “done no wrong” (v. 29), but admits he is a broken man. The message from Eliphaz makes sense. If you do bad things, bad things will happen to you. If you do good things, good things will happen to you. Doesn’t that seem fair?
Like Eliphaz, many people in our day believe that in every situation, you reap what you sow. Some call it karma, others throw God into the mix and believe that He will give them good fortune as long as they are doing the right thing.
It’s even easy for us, as Christians, to be tricked into thinking this way. Oftentimes we think devotion in the Christian life and obedience to God should always lead to earthly blessing. But this is a form of the “prosperity gospel,” a message that says God rewards those who have enough faith with earthly gain.
However, we know that suffering is inevitable in this life. Jesus Himself taught that the rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). We must realize there is not always a direct correlation between our suffering and our personal sin, but suffering is present in a fallen world. We will face hard times, but we can find comfort in the fact that this world is not our home and that Jesus ultimately suffered in our place.
A great resource on how suffering and the prosperity gospel can be related is the Living and Effective Podcast, Season 2, presented by the Christian Standard Bible and Christianity Today. You can click here if you want to take a listen.
“I have told you all this that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome the world.” – Jesus, John 16:33
By: Lucas Taylor — West Campus Pastoral Ministry Apprentice