Permitting and Preventing Suffering

November 15, 2021 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


Credit: Job and His Friends by Ilya Repin (1869)

Last week on this blog, I referenced Job and his yearning for resurrection after all the suffering he had experienced. Resurrection to new life after and apart from all the trials and pain we encounter in this life is our ultimate hope. But in the meantime, we still need strength to endure the trials and pain we encounter in this life.

At the beginning of Job’s story, Satan accuses this righteous man before God of only living for God because of what he gets from God:

Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out Your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face. (Job 1:9-11)

In response, God, instead of striking Job, leaves it to Satan, but adds one critical caveat:

Everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger. (Job 1:12)

God sets up a tension with these words. At the same time He permits suffering, He also prevents suffering. Later, when Satan wants to kill Job, God responds:

He is in your hands; but you must spare his life. (Job 2:6)

Again, God permits suffering while also preventing suffering – the ending of Job’s life.

When we suffer, this tension can give us tenacity. While we may remain confused as to why God permits some suffering, we can also rest assured that God is also preventing some suffering. The trouble we have when God prevents suffering is that we don’t know that God has prevented it because we never had to endure it. But even if we cannot immediately know or see when God has prevented suffering, we can be thankful that God does, in fact, prevent suffering. He has told us He does in Job’s story.

It is tempting for us to complain and even curse God when He permits suffering. But as with Job, when God permits suffering, He also has a purpose in suffering. In Job’s case, when he refuses to curse God amid his pain, Satan is proven wrong. His accusation against Job – that Job loves God only because of what God has given him – goes down in defeat. Thus, the suffering that Satan brings on Job is the same suffering that defeats his accusation against Job. So it is with Christ. The suffering that Satan delighted in when Jesus was in agony on a cross is the same suffering that defeated him – along with sin and death – when Christ died on the cross.

May we, in our suffering, pray for God’s purpose when God permits it and give thanks to God when He prevents it. He really does know what He’s doing.

Entry filed under: Devotional Thoughts. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Not Much Lasts Forever Preemptive Thankfulness

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