This is Part 6 of 8 parts answering the question, “What are God’s purposes in why He allows suffering?” of the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Part 7-8 will be posted on succeeding days.
God Allows Suffering to Manifest of Love and His Glory
Job was a blameless man (Job 1:1). However, after the intense physical, emotional and relational suffering, he became distorted in his personal view of God. His three friends (Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar) promoted a false theology that taught suffering was a result of sin. Elihu (a fourth friend) tried to correct that as Waters writes,
Elihu began his discourses with a lengthy introduction and expression of anger toward both Job and the three older companions (32:1–10). He felt that both parties had been guilty of perverting divine justice and of misrepresenting God (32:2–3, 11–22). Elihu attempted to correct the friends’ and Job’s faulty image of God.10
Job suffered intensely, but God also blessed him richly. God demonstrated He that He is sovereign and does not need to provide His children with an answer (Job 42). We may not understand the pain and agony, but we can welcome His love. When we know who we are, then we can be assured of the reason “why.” While that might not make the anguish any easier, it often keeps our focus on the “One who knows” rather than the circumstances that can confuse.
Just as in Job’s case, the man born blind had not sinned, but was born for the manifestation of the glory of God. As recounted in John 9, the disciples asked Jesus who had sinned – the man or his parents. They were just like Job’s friends, who held erroneous beliefs that suffering always meant sin had been committed. The disciples were quick to assign blame on either the man or his parents that he had been born blind. But Jesus responded that neither had sinned to cause the blindness, but the sovereignty of God allowed the blindness for His own glory,
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.(John 9:1-3 NKJ)
God is always purposeful. He is not impulsive, whimsical or fickle. He does all things and allows all things for His own glory and He is worthy of that glory. Within that purpose, God’s people will always be the recipients of His blessing!
When Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus was dying, He waited until He knew Lazarus was dead. It was not because Jesus did not love him, but because He wanted to reveal the glory of God through resuscitating him from the dead,
4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. (John 11:4-5 NKJ)
There was no sin on Lazarus’ part. The purpose was to manifest the glory of God and increase the character of Jesus to the disciples. When God’s people wait on the Lord and, like Job, put their hand over their mouth and suspend judgment, they will see the glory of God and experience His love in new ways. In fact, God will even silence His enemies (and those who are our enemies).
9Waters, Larry, “Suffering in the Book of Job,” Why, O God (Wheaton, Crossway, 2011), pp. 124-125.
10 Ibid, p. 444.
Part 7 will be posted tomorrow.