“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
This is a question that has been asked down through the ages. In Romans 8, Paul talks about creation groaning because the original sin that cast it into utter disarray. Of course, Job’s friends did not understand this view and had a different answer to that question. They, along with many other primitive believers, said it was because the sufferer had sinned. We know this was not true of Job because the Scripture says in 1:1b: “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” So then why do the righteous suffer? It is because we live in a fallen world and for that reason, there are:
Trials we endure that we do not deserve, but they are permitted. Life includes trials that we do not deserve, but they must, nevertheless, be endured. In the mystery of God’s unfathomable will, we can never explain or fully understand why we have to endure things we do not deserve. We must keep in mind that it is not as important to understand God’s actions as it is to trust His judgment. God has a plan for us that may be hard if not impossible for us to grasp so we need just to trust Him. If you try to figure it all out, you will become increasingly more confused, ultimately resentful, and finally bitter. At that point, Satan will have won the day. Just accept it, trusting in the goodness of God. Endure the trial that has been permitted by God. Always keep in mind that if you are a child of God, nothing touches your life that has not passed through His hands. He is in full control and because He is, He has the sovereign right to permit trials that we do not deserve but are needed for our spiritual growth.
We have an enemy we encounter that we cannot see, but he is real. We have a supernatural enemy, and we encounter him or one of his emissaries regularly. Never doubt it or allow someone to accuse you of making excuses — the enemy is real. This enemy hopes that his deceptive strategy will play tricks on your mind and will weaken you and ultimately bring you down. The Accuser’s desire is to ruin your testimony as he destroys your life. In the process, if it means ruining your family relationships, he’ll go there. If it takes tempting you to secretly cut a few corners in your business which you would not have done in earlier days, he’ll go there. Whatever it takes to bring you down, he will try. Because we have an enemy we cannot see does not mean he is not real.
Consequences we experience we cannot anticipate, but they are necessary. These consequences fall under a couple of categories: 1) Consequences from things you had no part in but you suffer because of them; and 2) consequences from your own righteous living. I don’t know where you find yourself today, but I would be willing to wager that most of you here today are going through something that is unfair. Chances are good that you simply don’t deserve what’s happening. The consequences may have started to get to you because, of course, you didn’t anticipate any of this. You didn’t think it would come to this, but it has. Trust me here–in the infinite wisdom of God what is happening is a necessary part of your spiritual growth. I have finally begun to see that reality after all these years of my life.
People suffer because we live in a fallen world. There are things that happen to us because of that fact, but there are also things that happen to us because God places us in situations that will help us grow into becoming more like Him.
When we look at things through spiritual eyes, we come to the realization that “God owns everything.” Psalm 50:12 gives us the truth about possessions. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is mine and all its fullness.” All that we have belongs to God, and He has loaned it to us to manage for Him.
- Job believed God owned everything. In verse 21 of chapter 1, we see Job’s idea of possessions. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.” Job seemed to understand that everything he had belonged to God, and he was just the manager of God’s assets. This fact was what made Job react as he did. Job was not losing his property, God was just reclaiming what He had loaned to Job.
- Jesus taught God’s ownership in the New Testament. Not only did Job believe God owned everything, Jesus taught this principle in the New Testament. In Matthew 25:14 we read Jesus talking about the property owner leaving managers in charge of his property while he went away for an extended vacation. Jesus said at the beginning of chapter 25: “The kingdom of heaven will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.” The kingdom of heaven is where God rules on earth. If He rules your life then the kingdom is there, and you are just managing God’s property. Therefore, all you have belongs to God; and you treat it as though an accounting will be required of you at any moment.
- The view of God’s ownership of things is life-changing. A. W. Tozer has said, “What we think about God is the most important thing about us.” In this story in Matthew 25 we see that one of the managers saw the landowner as a tyrant. This is a wrong view of God. If we view God as a tyrant we will filter everything through that lens. In this story we see that a wrong view of God always leads to fear. We read: “So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground…” This is what led to the downfall of this servant, and it is the same thing that will cause us to fail. We think we know the master; we think we know God; God is a God of wrath, who punishes people and causes sickness and we build our entire life around the wrong God and it leads to fear.
God is the Loving, heavenly Father and we must not only see Him in this light ourselves, but we must share that news with others. Always look at Him in the light of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” If that is not enough, look at the next verse John 3:17: “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” God is love and He has entrusted us to manage the world. Each one of us has part of that world to manage. When we can view God as a loving and trusting heavenly Father, it has life-transforming possibilities. He believes in us. He trusts us to give and to receive from His bounty. God owns everything and we are His managers.
No matter what the situation, God reigns supreme. If ever a believer in biblical days shared in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, Old Testament or New Testament, it was Job. All that he humanly had left was his wife and his three friends, and even they turned against him. It is no wonder the Job felt that God had deserted him. When there seemed to be nothing else for Job to do his wife gave him some very poor advice. She told him to, “Curse God and die!” This was exactly what Satan wanted Job to do, and Job’s wife put the temptation before her husband. Satan works through people who are dear to us; and the temptation is stronger because we love them so much. Adam listened to Eve and Abraham listened to Sarah; but Job did not listen to the advice of his wife. Job stayed faithful to his conviction — faith in the sovereignty of God. I encourage you to —
- Never give up. When life is difficult, it is easy to give up; but giving up is the worst thing you can do. Someone said, “If Columbus had turned back, nobody would have blamed him — but nobody would have remembered him.” If Job had given up, we would not have read his dreadful story because he would not have been the man with radical faith. If you want to be memorable sometimes you have to be miserable. Keep in mind that extraordinary people face extraordinary problems. But the Good News is, we have an extraordinary God.
- God is not moved by our needs and feelings but by our faith. There are some wonderful things that happen when we live by faith. When one door closes, God opens another door. I have seen that God uses adversity to push us into our divine destiny. There is something I want to assure you of today: God works the most when you see it the least. So folks, no matter how bad thing may get, live your faith even when it seems that God is not listing or responding to what you think you need at the moment, because it is your faith not your needs that He responds to.
- Suffering may be intense, but in the end it will cease and God will bless abundantly. Job was suffering because God was contesting with Satan. Job never knew that, nor did any of his friends; so they all struggled to explain suffering from the perspective of their ignorance, until finally Job rested in nothing but faith in God’s goodness and the hope of His redemption. The fact that God vindicated Job’s trust in Him is the end message of the book. When there are no rational or, even, theological explanations for disaster and pain, trust God. That is what Job did and God restored him. In Job 42:12a, 16-17 we read, “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.” “After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years.” God is Sovereign and He will bless the faithful.
In conclusion, there is no greater book in the Bible on the ultimate sovereignty of God than the book of Job. It may not explain all the methods God uses, but it reveals Him as present and acting. Satan, the archenemy of all, wanted to prove that people serve God only for what they can take from Him. But the marvel of it all is that the devil could not touch a hair on the back of a single camel that belonged to Job until he had God’s permission!