Job 40 offers the key to suffering. This is the one thing most needed as we consider the problems in our life. That thing is P-E-R-S-P-E-C-T-I-V-E.
I abhor Christian platitudes in suffering. I recently heard an interview with John Townsend speaking of the 4 quadrants of what he calls “Relational Nutrients,” what people need in times of suffering or stress. These four things are what people need from another person. These quadrants are 1. be present, 2. convey the good (encouragement), 3. provide reality, and 4. call to action.
Very often we seek to provide reality and tell suffering people to do something, like Job’s friends. What we’re not usually great at is simply being present without speaking. However, when it’s time to speak, time to provide a dose of reality, the truth is for almost anything a person encounters, it could always be worse.
Many of us speak of suffering in light of what some jokingly call “first-world problems.” Several years ago, a friend had poor cell phone signal and cried out, “How are you supposed to work a smartphone without 3G?” That’s first-world problems. Most of our complaints and “suffering” fall firmly into this category.
Other suffering is much worse, the kind that spans culture and time, the kind that Job experienced, that is true suffering. Even then, in almost any circumstance, it could always be worse. Outside of Christ, Job experienced the worst suffering that a human can endure. His response to the Lord’s question is worthy of our attention because we see a perspective on suffering that we will probably never have in our lifetime and suffering.
As the Lord continues His response to Job, Job says, “I am of small account; what shall I answer you?” Here’s the reality, it does not matter the suffering we endure, on the day that we encounter the Lord, His might and majesty will leave us speechless. We cannot even imagine this moment, but for all the complaining we do in our lives, those words will be the furthest thing from our minds.
The suffering we experience is real and it hurts. My issue with Christian platitudes is that we often push people past their hurt too quickly. It’s as if a month or two after the loss of a loved one, many of us look at a person and say, “You’re still upset about that?” Of course, we don’t say that verbally, but we forget that this person still needs attention and care. Our hurt hurts, and rightly so. Sin still reigns in this world and, as such, there is pain and tears.
Job 40 reminds me of two different passages that we should reflect on today. First, Romans 8:18 says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Nothing we suffer will matter when our eyes see the glory of the Lord. Second, Matthew 12:36, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” This second idea brings to mind those folks who have encountered suffering and say things like, “I prayed and I can’t believe/trust in God because He didn’t answer.” Or, “Why did God let this happen to me (implied, because I’m a good person.”
These statements, and the many like them, are not wrong. They simply lack the perspective of Job 40. Suffering tempts us with a distorted view of God—making our suffering bigger than He is. Read Job 40 and understand today, nothing is bigger than He is.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate