Sitting around the ash heap in the wake of disaster and suffering, Job and his friends struggled with a fundamental question which has continued to plague humanity. The question seems inevitable whenever people suffer. “Why did this happen to me?”
Biblically, there are a number of reasons why some people have encountered adversity and even suffering. A few of these reasons include: Satan has used hardship as a tool for tempting people to curse God and sin.(1) Second, God disciplines those whom He loves for their well being.(2) Third, as a result of the rampant sin of the community or of other individuals, the innocent have been hurt.(3)
So how is a person supposed to be able to figure out whether any particular hardship is a result of Satanic efforts to destroy faithfulness or whether God may be disciplining or perhaps this has happened because of some other reason?
It has often been pointed out that in the book of Job, Job and his friends, who are consumed by the “why,” are never given an answer even though the reader is provided the inside scoop! And it is here in God’s refusal to answer their burning question of “why,” the fact that there is an answer but it was not provided to them, and where God led Job that we are directed toward a real answer for encountering our adversity.
As much as we might want to know why, why is not where our focus should be. The truly important questions, which are often eclipsed during times of trial, are: “what is the godly response” and “how are we going to respond?”
Regarding the first question, the answer is the same regardless of why it happened! Whether adversity has come because the evil one has laid a snare for someone’s life, or godly love has been disciplining or perhaps someone was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, God’s person should always respond in the same manner – draw closer to God, walk in His ways and rely upon His strength! Although we may not know why something has happened to us, we do know what we should do. Accordingly, rather than waste our energy in being consumed by the often unending question of “why,” we ought to focus our attention and energies upon living as dedicated children of God in a hostile world.
Since the answer to “what should we do” is known, the only true question which remains is, “how will we respond?” In fact, does not the real question in the book of Job revolve around whether Job would remain faithful to God even in the face of adversity?(4) The question to be answered is not “why,” but rather what will you do?
1 Job 1:11-12; 2:4-5
2 Hebrews 12:5-11
3 Joshua 7:1-12
4 Job 1:8-12; 2:3-7