God's Facts Versus Human Opinion
February 21, 2019
When people suffer pain or distress, it is common for people to think irrationally. Our emotional capacity doesn’t often do well with suffering and grief. We are often susceptible to buy into certain ways of thinking that, under normal circumstances, we would dismiss, but in our pain, seems acceptable and valid. Often times, the chief target of our pain is God. People often question God in times of suffering and grief. People often question His motives, His purposes, and His righteousness. Under normal circumstances, people might be willing to confess that God is perfect in all His ways. People readily admit that God is wise and always does the right thing. People confess that God alone is righteous. Yet, when our circumstances change, those basic truths we know of God are challenged. Because we suffer, has God’s nature changed? Just because things seem bad to us, has the Lord God Almighty gotten it wrong this one time? The Bible reveals that this is a common swing for people when things get hard. It is important to make note of this truth so as to ensure we immediately recognize and repent of this issue when we recognize it in our lives. God is who God is regardless of what we think.
An example of this human flaw is exposed in the testimony of Job. In Job 9:14-24 the Bible shows that Job’s grief and sorrow was starting to get the best of him. The false accusations from Job’s friends, that he was a hypocrite, were starting to get to Job. As a result, Job started to say some crazy things, that if he were not suffering, he likely would not have said. Though Job never cursed God as the devil had hoped, he did speak wrongly about God and blasphemed His name in other ways. The testimony begins by Job asking the question, “How can I answer God?” This point is true. Who can stand as innocent before God? Who can match God’s righteousness so that any pain He might allow inflicted on us can be proved as injustice? Job knew that, while he was not guilty of being a hypocrite like his friends accused, he was not totally innocent before God. Job knew that he had no valid defense and excuse before the supreme righteousness of God. How could Job reason with God if God alone is wise? Job knew that if he spoke with God, it would only be a matter of time before his words proved himself to be a fool compared to God, thus warranting any suffering the Lord might allow.
Knowing that he had no excuse to be dismissed from his suffering, Job admitted that if he had the chance to call out to God as “the Judge,” he would beg for mercy. The sad truth is that Job could have called out to God for mercy at any time. However, being focused on the issues of his pain, he had forgotten the merciful nature of God. Job had figured that the extent of his pain was an indication that God had discarded Job, even though the basis of God’s faithfulness promises that He will never leave nor forsake His people. Job confessed that, by this point, he felt like God had turned a deaf ear to his cries. This might have been only because Job’s cries were towards his friends in complaints rather than to the Lord for mercy. Though we cry, it doesn’t mean that we cry the right way so that God will hear. Complaining in self-righteousness is not the type of crying that God wants to hear. The children of Israel “cried” throughout their forty years in the wilderness, and God kept them from the Promised Land for it. The Bible does NOT teach that God ignores His people. Instead, the scriptures show that there are issues within our own hearts that cause our words to fall short of His throne because of our attitudes about God Himself.
Though Job never cursed God like the devil anticipated, Job did begin to accuse God of being unmerciful. Job felt like God was the cause of his suffering. Though God suggested and authorized the devil to inflict pain, God was not the direct cause. Job was wrong. Job felt like God was multiplying his wounds without cause. Once again, God was not the one inflicting the pain, so He could not be the one multiplying the pain of the wounds. Additionally, Job previously confessed that, though he was innocent of hypocrisy in one sense, he was not innocent as a sinner. If Job suffered, how could his suffering be without cause if he admitted to guilty of being a sinner? His suffering might not have been for a cause he understood, but a cause nonetheless. Still, God was not punishing Job. Job’s pain was not for a specific offense. Job’s sinful nature qualified him to suffer in a general sense, but God indeed had purpose for Job’s suffering that had nothing to do with fault. Again, Job was wrong about God.
Job also suggested that God’s purposes were excessive. Job didn’t feel that he needed to suffer to the degree that he did. Job accused God of not allowing him to catch his breath on account of the pain, possibly directly related to his throat. However, had Job remained quiet from his complaints and useless defense of himself, he would not have had to use the voice that he complained about. It was his own determined will that complicated his suffering, not God. Job confessed that if God were trying to prove certain things about Himself, the points were proven long ago, and God’s lessons were overdue. If God were strong, Job agreed that the Lord had already proven Himself Almighty. If God were righteous and just, Job agreed that the Lord had already shown that, though he was innocent of hypocrisy, his heart still had issues. Job continued to confess that superior righteousness of God even though he didn’t agree with the way God was showing it.
As a result, Job continued to speak about himself. Job despised God’s work so tried to console himself. Job again, said that he was blameless, referring to the accusations of his friends that he was a hypocrite. He was not a hypocrite in the sense that his friends said, but the more he spoke, was proving himself to be hypocritical in other ways. His pain was drawing out the fleshly desires to oppose God and His righteousness, and his mouth was making that clear. To Job, it made no difference that he was innocent of the specific hypocrisy that his friends accused of. Job suffered either way, so he despised his life and what it had become. Job felt that God was one to destroy the blameless and the wicked. This is not true. Job felt that God was one to laugh at the plight of the innocent. This is also not true. Job made it seem as if God was one that took pleasure in destruction, even of the wicked. Yet, the Bible makes it clear that God doesn’t even take pleasure in the destruction of the ungodly. He is just to do what He must, but is not entertained with suffering and loss of life as some people accuse.
The Bible shows that Job’s suffering had caused Job to respond according to his flesh rather than the Spirit. Job might have suffered an exceptional amount, but God was not to blame. Job might have experienced great loss, but that doesn’t mean that the nature of God had changed. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever more! Our suffering does not affect His character or nature. Just because we suffer doesn’t mean that God’s mercies aren’t renewed every day. In fact, one could make the argument that God was showing mercy to Job at the moment Job made false accusations about God, sparing Job from worse suffering and final judgment. Our suffering doesn’t change God’s gracious nature. Job indeed suffered greatly, but was restored and reward beyond his comprehension in the end, and not because he handled his trials so well. God is still patient when we suffer. God is still compassionate when we suffer. Remember that the nature of our Savior was well acquainted with sorrow and grief of His own on our behalf! Remember that Jesus subjected Himself to temptations of all kinds so that our Great High Priest could sympathize with us, in order to properly and effectively intercede for us.
Job felt that God allows the wicked non-believers to rule the world and causes the faithful to suffer greatly. It certainly feels that way sometimes. The prophet and musician Asaph wrote a whole psalm about that feeling (Psalm 73). The prophet Habakkuk felt the same way as well. However, just because the sentiment is common, doesn’t mean it’s right. God does not let the wicked and guilty run free in the world at our expense. God is not the cause of our pain so that He can be gratified by our suffering. God did not take the form of flesh to place our chastening on Himself because He loves to see us grieve. Though pain might cause our minds to wander into some dark places, it is critical to remember who God REALLY is according to the truth of His Word, not our opinions that are governed by our emotions.