Seasons of suffering are difficult, but they should not be wasted. Suffering can instruct and inform us. As Benjamin Disraeli said, “Seeing much, suffering much, and studying much are the three pillars of learning.”
Suffering is not a welcome teacher. But what did Job learn on his journey into the darkness of loss, grief, and pain?
Suffering Is Inevitable
“For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble spring from the ground; yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (job 5:6-7).
Carl Sandburg wrote what he claimed was the shortest poem in English literature: “Born. Troubled. Died.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “He has seen but half the universe who has never been shown the house of Pain. As the salt sea covers more than two-thirds of the surface of the globe, so sorrow encroaches on man in felicity.”
Regardless of Eliphaz the Temanite’s motivation for speaking the words of Job 5:6-7—whether intended to comfort or accuse—they are nonetheless true. Suffering is an inevitable part of living in a world distorted by sin, “As the sparks fly upward.” In a broken world, suffering is the norm, not the exception. The presence of suffering, not its absence, defines normalcy.
God Is Alive
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth” (job 19:25).
How do we respond to our inevitable suffering and loss? With fatalism? Realism? Doubt? Despair? Faith? A combination? Our hearts and minds are often torn between these options. Sometimes we despair in fatalism; sometimes we affirm our faith in the midst of screaming doubts. Rather than doubting the existence of God, Job’s suffering drove him to confirm it. Holding on to our confidence in the reality and power of God, especially when circumstances defy our understanding, can lift our experiences of hardship to something more. Something higher. Something of worth because He is there.
God Is Aware
“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (job 23:10).
Not only is God alive but He is fully aware of the challenges we face. In Christ, God is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (hebrews 4:15 erv). He knows the purposes our pain can accomplish. Job learned that God is aware of the path of our suffering; it is not so random after all. Dark seasons of life may be tools in His hand to mold us and shape us into what He desires.
God wastes nothing, including the seasons of suffering that teach us so much about life, about ourselves, and about our heavenly Father.
God Is Trustworthy
He said, “. . . The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (job 1:21).
In the end, Job’s first response was his best response. Uttered in faith, it was proven accurate. The trustworthiness of God is one of the lessons learned best in the crucible of suffering. The inscrutable wisdom and trustworthiness of God is a sure anchor in the most turbulent storms of life.