Job and His Friends by Ilya Repin (1869) (from =>

Imagine losing everything, your family, your health, and your wealth. For each of us, there is a good chance that before we die we will lose much that we cherish. Those of us who live long enough will see much of our family die. As the years pass, we will pass our prime, and our health will begin to decline. In spite of our best efforts, when we grow old, we will eventually become less productive. Then we will have more and more difficulty hanging on to whatever wealth we have.

In the Bible we have an example of how we should react to our losses. That is what the Book of Job is about. However, Job did not lose his family, his health, and his wealth to old age. Job lost all he had because God gave Satan permission to take his family, his health, and his wealth from him.

First, God gave Satan permission to kill Job’s children and deprive Job of his wealth (Job 1). How did Job react?

Job 1:20-22 New American Standard Bible

20 Then Job got up, tore his robe, and shaved his head; then he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 Despite all this, Job did not sin, nor did he blame God.

Because Job did not blame God, Satan complained that Job still feared God because Job feared losing his health (Job 2:4-5). So, God gave Satan permission to destroy Job’s health by afflicting him with severe boils from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. Still, even though his wife, also in mourning for her children and for husband’s affliction, encouraged him to do so, Job did not blame God.

Job 2:9-10 New American Standard Bible

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold firm your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You are speaking as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we actually accept good from God but not accept adversity?” Despite all this, Job did not sin with his lips.

Job’s torment did not end. His friends, after they had sat and mourned with Job, insisted that Job must have done something wrong or God would not have permitted him to suffer. Therefore, most of the Book of Job is a debate. When Job’s friends accuse him, Job justifies himself because he does not believe he has done anything wrong.

Fortunately, Job also appealed to God, begged for relief, and God answered. God did not explain Himself to Job, and Job, because God is God, humbly accepted an answer without explanation.

Why did God allow Satan to torment Job? We can only guess. Even the Book of Job, which allows us eavesdrop on the conversation between God and Satan, does not directly explain what motivated God to allow Satan to torment Job.

Why does God allow us to suffer? Many say the Bible does not answer that question, but the Bible most certainly addresses the issue. We just don’t find the answer satisfactory. Like Job, we have to accept the fact that God doesn’t have to tell us everything we want to know.

Why then does God sometimes take from us that which He has given us? There seems to be at least four different reasons.

God wants us to remember that He is God. We live in a universe that is completely beyond our understanding and control. We exist only because God has ordained that we should exist. So, when, God, the Creator, begins speaking to Job (Job 38), He does not answer Job’s questions. Instead, God reminds Job that He is God. That lasts until Job 42. Then Job repents.

Job 42:1-6 Good News Translation

42 Then Job answered the Lord.
I know, Lord, that you are all-powerful;
    that you can do everything you want.
You ask how I dare question your wisdom
    when I am so very ignorant.
I talked about things I did not understand,
    about marvels too great for me to know.
You told me to listen while you spoke
    and to try to answer your questions.
In the past I knew only what others had told me,
    but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
So I am ashamed of all I have said
    and repent in dust and ashes.

God uses our suffering for the benefit of others. In Job 1:12, God gives Satan permission to torment Job. Here is what John Wesley observed about that.

Behold, &c. – It seems strange, that, God should give Satan such a permission as this. But he did it for his own glory, for the honour of Job, for the explanation of providence, and the encouragement of his afflicted people in all ages.

Jesus explained this concept. Consider the suffering of a blind man.

John 9:1-3 New American Standard Bible

As Jesus passed by, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

Thereafter, Jesus healed the blind man.

God instructs in our suffering. The following Bible passage explains how and why God instructs us.

Hebrews 12:4-11 New American Standard Bible

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are punished by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He punishes every son whom He accepts.”
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 For the moment, all discipline seems not to be pleasant, but painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

God wants us to appreciate the value of that which He has given us. Does the Bible say this, that God deprives us of people, places, and things so that we might know their value? Not explicitly, but.this is something we learn from the experience of suffering.

We suffer so that we might learn that slavery to sin is far worse than obeying our Creator. We suffer so that we might not experience the worst loss of all and be separated from the presence of God for all eternity.

Psalm 27:7-10 New American Standard Bible

Hear, Lord, when I cry with my voice,
And be gracious to me and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“I shall seek Your face, Lord.”
Do not hide Your face from me,
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me,
God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the Lord will take me up.


Add yours

  1. Tom, You Stated

    “First, God gave Satan permission to kill Job’s children and deprive Job of his wealth”
    The Job verses may be comforting to many approaching the end of their time on earth.

    Your statement though, brings up the belief that God allows Satan to tempt humans to engage in wickedness.

    In my opinion, this conundrum is an intriguing religious mystery that has been pondered by many over time.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    1. Satan is a creature. Satan is a fallen angel, but like us he is still a creature. If we can tempt each other, because God allows it, then we may be horrified by it because Satan is such a powerful tempter, but we should not be surprised that God allows Satan to tempt us.

      Here is the key, however.

      1 Corinthians 10:13 New American Standard Bible
      13 No temptation has overtaken you except something common to mankind; and God is faithful, so He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

      As powerful as Satan may be, our Lord still restrains him, and the story of Job demonstrates that.

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