There are many events in life that we do not understand. Misfortune becomes less painful and more bearable if we can either discern a meaning or impose a meaning. When disaster strikes or bad things happen to us, we look for reasons that are not only factually inaccurate, but sometimes present themselves as attempts to defend God. We are sometimes tempted to blame ourselves or someone else. As humans, we want the world and the events in it to make sense, but in trying to do so, we sometimes miss the point. This is the way it was with Job and his friends. Job’s friends struggled not only to find the cause of his suffering, but assumed that his suffering was justified.
In his frustration, Job is seen challenging the fairness of God, but in so doing, he also expresses his intimate knowledge of God. Job believed that God cares for humankind by finding endless ways of testing and torturing (7:17-20). He believed that not only did God know his every move (7:19) but is also very attentive to his struggle (7:20).
Job’s friend Bildad responds by applying the principle of cause and effect by calling Job to repentance. Bildad held the view that the Almighty God, who knows all things, is just and does not pervert righteousness (8:3) and therefore, Job must be guilty for such suffering to befall him. In a sense, Job’s predicament can only be punishment from a just God. Bildad does not appear convinced that Job is necessarily guilty, which begs the question of who then is guilty and as such, responsible for Job’s suffering. Bildad attempted to assign the blame to the sins of Job’s children (8:4) and suggest that Job should plead with God so he can be restored (8:5-6).
Suffering has two sides: those who suffer and those who observe the suffering. Both can be consumed with the frustration of trying to do something about the situation and not getting the desired result. As Christians, and observers to suffering, we are tempted to take a religious or traditional approach just as Bildad did and interpret suffering as punishment from God. When we experience pain and suffering, or encounter difficulties in our lives, it can feel like God has abandoned us. We question, “Why can a caring God allow such suffering?” or in contrast, “God must have a good reason to allow it”.
We get frustrated in trying to make something happen instead of waiting on the Lord to bring it to pass. Although our God is a just God, He is also a merciful and caring God. Do not give in to frustration, but wait on God, even when it seems impossible. The best thing we can do to anyone suffering is not to speak in platitudes or ask why, but to come to God in prayer. He is faithful in His own time.