Without Knowledge

by Scarlett Stough

Suffering is a state all of us have in common. The source of our suffering may be different—health problems, economic hardship, political unrest, or emotional distress; yet we often respond in the same way. We want to know “why.” Whether we believe in God or not, we simply do not understand the reason for suffering. Some ask, “If God is good, why does he allow suffering?” Some ask, “If God is just, why do the innocent suffer?” (Spoiler alert—this brief essay will not answer that question.)

Job's story is one of a godly man who had it all and lost it all. After listening to his friends, Job defended himself by pointing out that he did not deserve his suffering. He defended himself to God, “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men....Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?” (Job 7:20, 21).

After Job, Job's friends, and God all spoke, Job came to see God in a way he had never done before and replied to God, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).

Job had been an honorable man, a servant of God, but he suffered troubles that were not of his making. Perhaps he had thought he had earned the good life he had once enjoyed. The question in the beginning of his story, “Does Job fear God for nothing?” (Job 1:9), posed by Satan implied that Job was in it for what God could give him materially.

God commended Job and rebuked Job's friends. The reason lies in Job's repentance. Job came to a deeper knowledge of God through his suffering. In our suffering we have an opportunity to know God in ways we do not when everything seems to be going well.

Peter wrote to God' elect, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord…” (1 Peter 3:13-15).

Peter also encourages us with these words, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10-11).

In our sufferings, whatever the cause or the reasons, we can use the circumstances of it to come to know God more completely.