The Theology Behind The Suffering of Job

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The book of Job provides a vivid illustration of the theology of suffering. In the beginning of the book, Job’s blessings are apparent. He possesses a large family, good health, many servants, flocks of multiple species of livestock, and is considered the greatest of all men in the East (Job 1.13). Job is not only cover story material for “Progressive Farmer” and “Fortune” magazines, he is more importantly a godly man, “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning from evil” (Job 1.1). In rapid succession, however, Job experiences numerous calamities. His livestock, servants, and children die, disease ravages his health, and his friends and wife become discouragers. Job wrongly believes in the retribution principle: “If a person is righteous, he will prosper; if a person is wicked, he will suffer.” The tremendous grief, loss, heartbreak, and discouragement cause Job to question his faith.

Believers and non-believers alike are often challenged by circumstances in their lives and pose the same question as Harold S. Kushner’s writing of the New York Times bestseller, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” While the author’s definition of the word “good” may vary greatly from the truthful standard expressed in the Bible, the book’s popularity indicates that many people are perplexed, disappointed, and bitter because they believe that bad things happen to them undeservedly. Rather than being unfair, God’s Holy Word shows His sovereignty and provides the guidance required to accept the theology of suffering. A study of Job enables believers to understand God’s sovereignty so that they may be perfected in faith, allow their circumstances to bring glory to God, and offer hope and encouragement to believers of later generations.


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...trusting God’s sovereignty, believers glorify God and encourage others in ways that bring glory to God, as well.

Works Cited

Draper, Charles W., Chad Brand, and Archie England, eds. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Revised ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Holman Reference, 2003.

Green, William Henry. The Argument of the Book of Job Unfolded. Reprint Edition ed. Charleston, SC: James & Klock, 1977.

Hill, Andrew E., and John H. Walton. A Survey of the Old Testament. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2009.

Kushner, Harold S. When Bad Things Happen to Good People. New York: Avon, 1983.

MacArthur, John. Standing Strong: How to Resist the Enemy of Your Soul. 2nd ed. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2006.

Ryrie, Charles, ed. Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update. Expanded ed. Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1995.