My seven year old asked me this question today.
It’s a question I’ve had to ask myself a lot over the past thirteen or so years—not so much about Job, but about friends and family members who have gone through unspeakable suffering and loss.
I’ve been recording the audio for a book this week—a compilation of stories from Christians who have suffered and experienced “triumph” in the midst of or after tragedy. Some of the stories have been so heart breaking I had my own mini crisis’ of faith while reading. I found myself asking the same question my seven year old asked me this morning…
7 years ago, after a friend lost her husband to cancer when she had a three month old, I had to look at my own three month old and submit to the reality that my life is not my own. Anything can happen at any time, regardless of my faith or faithfulness and that is just so hard to accept.
One thing I know for certain: no one wants to hear “answers” when they’re in the thick of their struggle or loss. No one wants a deep, theological answer to the cry of their broken heart. The only thing they need in those moments is company, empathy, practical help, and unconditional love.
But after things settle down, the questions seem to get louder. Why? Why did God let Satan test Job? Why have my friends and family suffered? Why have I, personally, had to suffer?
The answer I gave my seven year old is the only answer I cling to: before Job experienced suffering, he had only heard about God—after, he saw him. Maybe God wanted to show Job who he was.
Maybe. That’s probably not the whole reason and it would never be an “answer” I’d present to someone in their time of grief. After all, Job still had grief after God restored all he had lost. (His children had died, remember?) But seeing God for who he is really is enough to heal our broken hearts and restore our broken lives. “Though he slay me, I will hope in him,” said the suffering servant, beloved of God (Job 13:15). And “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)
I don’t understand everything and probably never will on this side of eternity. Maybe there are reasons for it all, maybe there aren’t always. Maybe we just live in a fallen world where suffering and death prevail until we’re moved into our eternal dwelling. But I’m at peace with not always knowing… because, at this point in my life, I know for sure that, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.” (Job 19:25) He is near. He is my comfort, my strength, my hope, and my light. And that is enough.