Why God allows Suffering: the Case of Job
In the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, the book of job describes the experiences of Job, a wealthy man who focused on obeying God. Despite remaining faithful to God, he experienced a lot of suffering. This raises that question; why does God allow His faithful people to suffer? One of the important answers to the question is that God uses suffering as a way of testing the strength of faith of His people.
Job lived with a large family in a land known as Uz, where he reared a large flock of animals. He was always careful to avoid engaging in evil and thus, he always strived to be faithful to God. However, Satan told God that Job would not remain faithful to Him if he experienced suffering. Satan argued that Job remained faithful only because God had blessed him. As such, Satan asked God for permission to inflict suffering on Job, after which Satan expected Job to turn against God and curse him. God gave Satan permission to punish Job, but not to take his life.
Jobs suffering started with the death of ten children, servants and livestock, as a result of natural catastrophes and invasions. Job mourned through shaving his head and tearing his clothes. Despite the issue, he remained faithful to God and recognized His blessings in players. Later, Job suffered from a horrible skin disease. The disease became too severe and as Job was struggling with it, his wife gave him advice to curse God and die. However, Job refused and chose to remain faithful to God.
Later, Job friends, Zophar, Bildad and Eliphaz visited him and started sharing conversation about the afflictions that Job was facing. The three friends argued that Job must have engaged in an evil act, and that was the reason why God was punishing him. They argued that God would not allow Job to suffer if the latter had not engaged in any evil. According to the friends, Job might have engaged in an evil act that deserved even more severe suffering. They asked Job to asses himself for any wrong he had done and repent or ask favor from God. However, Job refused to agree with them. He still believed that he was innocent and there would a witness in heaven who would vouch for his innocence.
When the suffering became too severe, Job started being sarcastic, to the extent that he cursed the day he was born. He started pondering about Gods relationship with humankind. He wondered how a human being can appease God. He realized that Gods nature is beyond understanding due to the fact that he allowed suffering to innocent and faithful people, yet he did not punish people who were unfaithful and disobedient. He started pondering about how he could face God and complain about the issue. He started seeking for an intermediary to connect him with God. All along, he avoided cursing God and engaging in wrong doing.
Another Friend of Job, Elihu, believed that the suffering came from Jobs wickedness. He believed that the suffering was Gods way of communicating to Job about his wickedness. However, Elihu believed that suffering enables people to realize Gods forgiveness and love, after they repent and God delivers them from the suffering. Ultimately, God intervened through explaining to Job about His unlimited power and the little knowledge that human beings have. Eventually, God blessed Job through multiplying his initial properties by two, healing him and giving him new children and a long life.
The case of Job demonstrates that God sometimes allows faithful and obedient people to suffer in order to determine whether they can forsake Him as a result of the suffering or temptations. God requires His followers to have strong faith so that would enable them to overcome temptations. People with weak faith forsake God when they face suffering, while those with strong do not forsake Him. God repays people succeed in the test, as He did to Job