Day 1

The Setting of the Test

from the Job reading plan

Job 1:1-22, Job 2:1-13, Psalm 22:1-11

BY Lisa Harper

Dealing honestly, wisely, and compassionately with human pain is an integral part of our job description as followers of Jesus Christ. No one gets through this life unscathed. Everyone deals with pain and suffering at some level. If someone insists she hasn’t, she’s either lying, in denial, or has amnesia. And since God’s second most important command is for us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, it behooves us to learn how to better comfort ourselves as well as our neighbors—both those we rub shoulders with daily, and also our global neighbors, who make up the lost and dying world we’re called to care for.

But let’s deal with the proverbial bull in the china shop, which is the fact that what happened to Job wasn’t what we like to think of as “fair.” I mean, goodnight! The very beginning of this Old Testament book describes Job as a really good guy who was doing really good things with his life. The mention of Job rising early to pray for his kids (Job 1:5) is a common Hebrew idiom denoting a conscientious habit, which means praying for his family was something he did consistently.

Reading about this righteous guy losing pretty much everything—his wealth, his health, and all ten of his children—it’s like biting into a warm brownie and breaking your tooth on a rock. This “divine test” is surprisingly unfair. Surely Job didn’t deserve such devastating loss.

In the New Testament, Jesus blows the idea of human deservedness right out of the water. In His Sermon on the Mount, He teaches that God throws fairness out the window to bless even the unrighteous (Matthew 5:43–45). In another place, He explains that bad things do indeed happen to good people (Luke 13:1–5). And in His parable about the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1–16), He thoroughly deconstructs any notion that we can earn God’s blessings.

The bottom line is this: No matter how many Bible studies we’ve done, or meals we’ve served to the homeless, we cannot earn one of those immunity sticks like they do on Survivor. None of us can get “good enough” to shield ourselves and those we love from suffering. Job proves that “good” people, including people of faith, can and do experience horrific things through no particular fault of their own. And if you want to really blow your mental hard drive, reread Job chapter 1, which suggests that while Job’s faith was truly strong, it did not safeguard him from hardship (v.8).

In the economy of God, Job’s suffering was an honor, a privilege. After all, “should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” (2:10). Our Creator and Redeemer handpicked Job for the honorable position of carrying the weight of pain. While God is not the author of evil (Psalm 5:4), He did choose Job with the foreknowledge that he would carry suffering well, because even our pain is a great conduit for God’s glory.

Can you imagine how different our lives could be if we began to view some of our pain and disappointment as a divine privilege? What if we saw a difficult journey as one God handpicked us to take, knowing that He Himself would strengthen us to make the trek, and more importantly, that His glory would be illuminated through our efforts? Changing our perspective on suffering—viewing it as an honor instead of dumb luck or cruelty—could absolutely change the course of our lives and deeply impact the world around us.


Post Comments (274)

274 thoughts on "The Setting of the Test"

  1. Tiffani Tocci says:

    Bad things happen but it should bring you closer to God. But sometimes I feel like I’m lost and I’m struggling with the pain,guilt , hopelessness

  2. Ashley Mitchell says:

    I’ve recently gone through a hard break up. There are times when I’m super positive about it all and feel God’s presence, and then there’s other times when it hurts so much everything is blurry. There are so many ways to look at human suffering. I’ve had to accept, with the help of an amazing therapist, that pain and suffering is inevitable. Just like this study says, no human can escape it. I’ve struggled with trying to control and prevent pain in my life but there’s no way to do that. All I can say is we can prepare for it by having a deep relationship with God. Job had such a strong connection with the Lord that he didn’t lose His faith or Himself in allllll of the suffering he went through because he was on solid ground with God. God by no means numbed his pain, but He was near. Job was faithful to God so He was faithful back to Job and restored his life. So keep pressing into your pain ladies! God is good. He hears your cries and feels your pain. Your suffering will not be for nothing because of Him.

  3. McKenna says:

    I agree with you, Vivi. Suffering is not handpicked by God, it is a natural human emotion that God welcomes and created, therefore we are free to feel it in its fullest and not have to mask it in a pretty box to make everything better. I think one of the biggest takeaways from Job is when his friends come and sit with him his suffering, not saying a word because they know that they don’t need to try to tell him that its a privilege. To me, trying to say that suffering is a gift or a privilege is denoting the very emotions that God created in our full humanity. God doesn’t tell us to tie things up with a pretty bow, but instead God weeps and suffers with us as a companion and strength to stand by us.

  4. Hannah Lee says:

    I came across this story about Job while doing my bible studies last year.. was suffering in life then as well as I am still now..its funny how the scripture reached me again….where I am no longer have human strength to go through this situation.

    I think I have hit the my last breath/strength when Job lost everything his wealth and health… for me it is my mental health. I know that the job/career I have chosen isn’t right for me after all.. but I kept going back to thinking its the only thing I am good at and making/feeding my mental health getting worse and worse.. I am finding ways to change career.. I have realized I have been doing this on my own strength not asking God for his plans for me.

    I do not know what to do but I think God is trying to tell me that to REST and Seek Him all heart and leave everything I have well he has given me which he given me but it is not for me. I am scared but I guess I have to do this.. Trust him with all my heart not even 2% less but 500% all believing in him again as he did once before ! He gave me back my hearing through surgery which was 50/50 chance whether I became fully death but I got Full hearing back. I think I need that kind of trust for my life/career/relationships to give all to God.

  5. Janine Goodwin says:

    3 months ago I was given a gift at my churches vision Sunday, wrapped in job. Initially I thought nothing of it except what were my chances. 9 weeks ago we lost our son. I’ve sat asking why. I then remembered the page of Job I had received. I’m blessed to see this study sitting here. I’m excited to have my thinking encouraged and challenged.

  6. Vivi Sew says:

    I am really finding it hard to view suffering as a privilege. I miscarried three times and I just lost my third baby a week ago. I am still not understanding why is this happening to me. How do I trust God when I don’t even understand how he thinks or why he allows us to suffer so much loss? We are still childless and my body is weak from all the surgery etc. How can my miscarriages be a privilege

    1. Jillian Sheehy says:

      No fancy words we can say can help you with your loss. But we can point you to God who is faithful in the good and the bad. Praying for healing and restoration of your body, mind, and soul ❤️

    2. Claudia Isacc says:

      I couldn’t even try to give you an answer. To tell you that this is the reason why. I don’t actually know. And I love She Reads Truth, and the writers and the women who work hard to write these posts, but yes, to swallow the word privilege in the middle of the suffering is the hardest part. Maybe the act of suffering isn’t the privilege but the privilege is God. Having Him while we go through the pain and while we go through the suffering. He is all knowing. He can sympathize with everything we go through. So those mothers who have miscarried too, the support groups that exist to encourage each other, that’s the privilege, that he would never leave you but be with you during the struggle. He is there in the good and he is there when there is bad. If you’re asking why we suffer, that’s a different question.

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