14–20 October 2018.

Job 23 (click to read).

Job knows that he has done nothing wrong. He knows that he has done nothing to deserve such terrible pain and disaster in his life. So Job dreams of bringing a court case to God and defending himself against God. In his heart Job knows this situation is unfair, and so he wants to argue with God and let God know that he is truly a righteous person who doesn’t deserve such suffering. The only problem is: how is Job supposed to find God? It seems like God is missing or – even worse – deliberately hiding from Job.

When we suffer this is a common feeling for us, too. We, too, feel like God is missing, that he has abandoned us and unfairly left us to go through our suffering alone. Even Jesus expresses this feeling during his torture on the cross, quoting the words of Psalm 22:1 – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).

Can God not bear to see suffering? Is he afraid of it? Is God embarrassed to face his own children when we suffer? Does he put his hands over his ears, unwilling and too ashamed to hear our accusations when we suffer? That’s Job’s suspicion. Maybe that’s why God is hiding from Job, maybe that’s why God is staying hidden far away in heaven where he doesn’t have to face the horrible realities of suffering or the accusations of those in pain.

Thankfully, through Jesus we know that these suspicions aren’t true. In Jesus we see that God isn’t afraid of suffering at all, and he doesn’t hide from us far away in heaven. Instead in Jesus we see that God really is willing to come and share in our suffering with us, to go through the same problems and pain that we do. In this world innocent people do suffer, and Christ in his innocence suffers with us. In this world innocent people are tortured and killed, and Christ in his innocence also goes through that torture and death together with us.

Jesus doesn’t hide himself from us, he isn’t far away from us when we cry. Instead he is “Immanuel”, “God with us”, especially in our suffering. And in his resurrection he gives us the promise that the suffering and pain we feel now are not the end, injustice and death are not the end. Yes suffering and pain will come, but when it does Jesus is here to lift us up and carry us through it. And he will lead us past suffering into a new life together with him.

Pastor Stephen Lakkis