Complaining about one’s suffering is quite possibly the most selfish thing a person could do.
Did you catch that?
It’s a bold statement, of which I would love to hear your opinion- really. When we suffer, we often find ourselves being the victims of God. We ask Him to stop our agony, we beg for Him to take away the pain, we search for a reason as to why we are suffering. But maybe, just maybe, God really does have a divine purpose for our suffering?
Let’s go back to Job- the man who suffered at the expense of his family, estate, and health. He was a godly man, and he could not find a reason for his suffering. As we saw in Part 2, Job prayed… and prayed… and prayed… and God did not answer for a long time. And when He did finally answer, it was absolutely nothing that Job ever expected! God’s simple answer to Job is spread out over four chapters in question form. He asks Job:
38:4- “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”
38:18- “Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?”
38:35- “Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?”
39:19- “Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?”
Rather than giving Job a concrete reason for his suffering, God boldly questions Job about his doubt in God’s power and sovereignty. The truth of the matter is that God doesn’t have to have a reason. To be sure, He does not enjoy seeing His people suffer, but He always is in control and always knows what’s going on. Rather than complaining to God, we should consider trusting Him and waiting patiently for Him to reveal His purposes.
There is sin in the world- that is undeniable. Therefore, bad things will happen to believers and nonbelievers. But God is still God, and He still watches over us. So maybe the purpose of Job’s suffering was only so He could have an increased faith in God- and that would be a great thing! My favorite verse in the entire book of Job is 42:5, in which Job humbles himself and understands that his faith has been lacking. He says,
“My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You.”
Job had certainly heard of what God had done in the lives of the Israelites- to be sure, he was a God-fearing man. But all of the stories and testimonies of other people had not truly taken root in his heart to grow a believing faith- so maybe God used this period of suffering as a time to reveal His glory to Job and to increase Job’s faith! We do not understand the depth of our faith until it is tested and stretched… and I think Job’s test proved that he needed just a smidge more faith in God.
My ears have heard of God, but I long for my eyes to see Him. Rather than complaining about suffering, a selfish act indeed, maybe I should rejoice in my sufferings as it says in the New Testament:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” –James 1:2-3
My eyes had heard of God, but I now desire for my eyes to see Him. My cry is that of the disciples in Luke 17:5, in which they say "Lord, increase our faith!" despite the suffering it may take to get there!