Suffering is a part of life. Every person encounters varying degrees and seasons of suffering. Several years ago, my wife began taking courses in Christian counseling at a nearby seminary. I remember after one class she shared with me that “people’s pain is people’s pain.” In other words, something that is not painful to you doesn’t mean it’s not painful for another person.

In today’s text, Job is an unlikely victim of suffering. Most would agree his pain would be our pain. He was a “blameless and upright” individual in the eyes of God who feared Him and avoided evil. However, God still allowed him to suffer unspeakable hardships. Through Job’s account, God wants us to know that in difficult times, we can choose not to sin by praising God for who He is.

I. In difficult times, God is with us.
The conversation that unfolds between Satan and God is peculiar. Where is God, and why is He leading Job toward harm’s way instead of protecting him?
Often in seasons of hardship, we feel as if God has deserted us; but God wants us to remember that in difficult times, He is with us. God is present in this conversation with Satan just as He’s present in Job’s life. God is present at all times in our lives, as well.

When I was a pastor, we had a dear couple in our church who had immense difficulty in having children. Eventually, after several miscarriages, she gave birth prematurely to a beautiful daughter. Lacking full development in two of her organs, the baby was required to stay for a couple of months in the intensive care unit. For reasons known only to the couple, they stopped attending our church. I later found out from others the couple felt God had abandoned them. Job’s story demonstrates that in difficult times, God is with us.

II. In difficult times, do not sin by cursing God.
Life can be very disappointing. It’s in our human nature to want to curse God when things don’t turn out the way we planned. Job never suspected God would allow Satan to put him through the ringer of suffering. In Job 2:7, as his body was stricken with agonizing sores, his wife hastily remarked, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

We had another couple in our church whose 18-month-old son was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. The disease took his life six months later. All of their non-Christian friends told them to curse God and to stop going to church. That’s what Satan wanted, as well; but Job 2:10 states: “In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” In the same way, this couple who lost a son did not sin by cursing God. Rather, they praised God for His kindness in giving them the short time they had with him. In difficult times, we can choose not to sin by praising God for who He is.

III. In difficult times, do not receive God’s blessing and reject His suffering.
Notice Job’s response (v. 10) to his wife’s lack of faith. He asked, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Nowhere are we promised in the Bible a life free of suffering. In fact, Jesus told us His disciples will suffer on account of fulfilling God’s mission.

Many Christians today have become very intolerant toward suffering. In recent days, when I disciplined my young sons, they usually responded: “Daddy, I don’t want a time out!” Likewise, Christians only want to receive good things from the Lord. We don’t want to receive discipline and endure hardship. Many preachers today preach a gospel of prosperity and blessing to the exclusion of Jesus’ teachings that we must deny ourselves and suffer for the gospel. As did Job, may we focus on who God is in His entirety and remember that in difficult times, we can choose not to sin by praising God for who He is.

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