The Book of Job

Why do the Righteous Suffer? (Job 4-7)

Jan 11, 2024 By: Damien Garofalo Topic: Sermon Devotional Series: Job: Gospel Light Scripture: Job 4-7

As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. (Job 4:8 ESV)

Job was the most righteous man in the land. Job experienced the most painful suffering one can imagine. The Book of Job is written in these extremes in order to teach us many valuable lessons about the life of faith in a fallen world.

One of the questions that is raised by this narrative is, “Why do the righteous suffer?” This question has boggled the minds of many over the centuries. Put another way, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Our Christian tendency is to respond with pat answers. As we’ve seen, the Book of Job challenges us to move beyond simplistic, pithy answers to such thought-provoking and deeply agonizing questions. It is one thing to defend the character of God or the Bible’s integrity in an academic debate or evangelistic encounter, but those of us who believe that God is good and all-powerful need truths that will help us endure suffering even amidst the questions.

While the Bible does give us examples of suffering caused by particular situations such as our own sin and need for discipline, the story of Job does not give us the typical reasons for his suffering.

Job’s 3 friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, whom we commended in a previous message when they sat with their friend, now begin to speak and to answer Job. We already know from the ending of the book that what they said was wrong.

But what exactly do they say? While there are 3 rounds of back-and-forth speeches between Job and his friends, and while there may be some nuance between the 3 of them, they all basically say the same thing: Job is suffering because of his sins.

So then, if Job confesses and repents, he should be free from suffering, right?

Not so quick. Job is righteous. We know this because God said it. And Job knows it. The friends think he’s being prideful, but the truth is, there is no known cause-and-effect reason for Job’s terrible suffering. 

This may seem anticlimactic, but it’s exactly what we need to hear, so that we can move beyond trite solutions and dig deeper. Dig deeper into what? Our relationship with God. Because, at the end of the day, Job moves all of us to know God more deeply, so that, in the midst of all the pain and the questions and the suffering, we can be found to be united to him, holding onto his hand, and trusting that, in his timing and in his way, he knows best, and will ultimately redeem every situation for his glory and our good.

The question is, do you believe this?