By David Faust
Job’s friend Eliphaz got it right when he observed, “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).
Suffering takes many forms. You can see it in the eyes of a widower who misses his wife, the sorrow of parents who grieve the loss of a son or daughter, the grimace of an arthritis sufferer who lives with chronic pain, the distended stomach of a hungry child, and the broken heart of a wife whose husband left her for another woman.
One man’s name has gone down in history as a synonym for suffering. No matter what kind of hurt we endure, we can relate to the story of Job.
The Extent of Job’s Suffering
After devastating losses to his family, his health, and his wealth, Job felt overwhelmed. He moaned, “If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas” (6:1-3).
He asked hard questions: “What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?” (6:11).
He endured sleepless nights. He said, “When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn” (7:4).
He suffered physical trauma. Painful sores covered his body from head to toe. Humiliated and miserable, he groaned, “My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering” (7:5).
He faced what looked like a hopeless future. Job murmured, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope” (7:6).
No wonder Job complained. He wasn’t a whiner, but he openly lamented his bitter circumstances: “Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (7:11). Who could blame him for feeling that way?
In the midst of his suffering, Job searched for an explanation. He cried out to the Lord, “If I have sinned, what have I done to you . . . ?
Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?” (7:20, 21).
The Longing for a Mediator
Most of all, Job longed for an arbitrator, a go-between, a peacemaker—someone to intercede for him with God: “If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me” (9:33, 34).
The New Testament reveals the answer to Job’s longing—and ours. God did send someone to mediate, someone to “remove God’s rod” from us, and as a result, suffering takes on a whole different look. Now we see it, not only when we look in the mirror, not only in the faces of our suffering friends, not just in the face of a famous sufferer like Job.
We see it in the face of the Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ. He can sympathize with our weaknesses because he experienced them himself (Hebrews 4:15). Wounded for our transgressions, he “took up our pain and bore our suffering” (Isaiah 53:4). He is the “one mediator” (1 Timothy 2:5)—the intercessor we long for when life seems too painful to bear.
And that makes all the difference.
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
The Lookout.’s Bible Reading Plan for November 4, 2012
2 Peter 2:17–22
2 Peter 3:1–9
2 Peter 3:10–18
Ezekiel 20, 21
1 John 1:1–4
Ezekiel 22, 23
1 John 1:5–10
1 John 2:1–11
Ezekiel 27, 28
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