There are various kinds of suffering, and the biblical character of Job experienced them all. One of the most severe kinds of hurt, and the one that gets far more attention than any other in the book of Job, are the short-sighted rebukes from Job’s “friends.” God had a severe mercy for Job. But the friends lived in a black and white world. Bildad expressed: “God will not reject a blameless man.”
For Bildad, personal suffering equals personal sin and God’s disfavor, period. Bildad could only see a linear connection, a direct line from sin to calamity. It was simply out of his equation to think otherwise. Since Bildad saw suffering as the direct result of sin, his remedy was to exhort toward confession of sin. The problem with this view is that we, as the readers, already know this to be a patently false understanding of Job’s suffering. Bildad saw the suffering, but did not discern the unseen dimension of good and evil contending behind-the-scenes between God and Satan.
It is only normal to wonder if we have sinned against God whenever we find ourselves in the crucible of suffering. But if we have done patient work to determine there is no personal reason for the pain, perhaps there is something going on that is much bigger than us. Our task, like Job’s, is to entrust ourselves to God. We might chafe at such counsel because we like to fix things that hurt. But suffering will not last forever; it will eventually pass. And God will always have his way in the end. We must continually keep in mind that permanent faith transcends temporary pain.
Loving God, take pity on my life as I seek to embrace you in both good times and bad. I belong to you, therefore, I will not forsake you no matter how much I do not understand the suffering. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.