Chapter 23: After Trials, We are Refined
Job answers his friends, yet again; “Even to day is my complaint bitter… and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Job 23:2-4). The wisdom and counsel of Eliphaz and others was of no relief to him, and just made his mental and spiritual agony worse. Job felt separated from God. He had found comfort and solace in God in previous times, but in this catastrophe he felt he could not find God.
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:8-9)
Job explains to his friends that he indeed did look for God, but felt that He could not be found anywhere! Job tried with all sincerity to find God, but felt that God remained hidden. Even so, Job knew that God was still watching him, even if he couldn’t see or feel his presence. Job understood that even without seeing God, he knew that God was there and that what he was doing was for his own good. Job knew that this was a trial, even though he hated it and was suffering greatly deep down Job knew that this had to be, so that he would come forth as “gold” or in other words come forth stronger and more refined.
“My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined” (Job 23:11)
Even after being accused of sin and abandoning God, Job proudly and boldy tells his friends that he has indeed kept the ways of God and had been and is continuing to be righteous.
Chapter 24: The Wicked Often Go Unpunished
“Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?” (Job 24:1) This is a fairly difficult verse to understand, but we might look at it in a different way; “Since God knows and will judge everything, why are the godly kept in the dark about His ways?” This also adds more application to the question of why God allows the prosperity of the wicked.
Other translations of the Bible read; in the NIV “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days? The New Living Translation says “Why doesn’t the Almighty open the court and bring judgment? Why must the godly wait for him in vain?”
“Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them” (Job 24:12)
Why does God permit suffering? Job goes on to explain a little bit about WHY, but I want to share a little more insight into this question;
WHY does God PERMIT SUFFERING?
In the Book of Mormon we can find a story about a man named Jacob, Jacob was the first born of a man named Lehi. The story goes that Lehi (who was ancient prophet in Jerusalem) received divine inspiration to leave the city, before it was destroyed. Lehi and his family depart into the wilderness and while on their journey they encounter many hardships. Lehi explains to his first born son that “…God…shall consecrate thine affliction for thy gain” (2 Nephi 2:2), he goes on to explain a little about the plan of salvation (and the free gift of Salvation), agency and the sacrifices of Jesus Christ. But the most important part for us to understand take from this story is that there is opposition in all things.
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not… righteous could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad…” (2 Nephi 2:11)
Lehi knew that in order to have good, we must also have bad. Sometimes people wonder, why do commandments exist? I would respond that they exist for the very purpose that laws exist, for our protection. For if you “…shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness… if there be no righteousness there be no happiness… no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery… if these things are not, there is no God… if there is no God, we are not, either the earth…” (2 Nephi 2:13)
So, why does God permit suffering? I would argue that we live in a world of good and evil, for our own understanding. If we have never felt joy, we cannot understand it. However, if we feel pain and then feel joy we can truly understand what joy is, while at the same time learning what pain is. “Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself…” (2 Nephi 2:16). God gave us agency, and part of that agency means that we can truly act for ourselves, which means people can do bad things to others. If God were to interfere, we would not have agency.
With this agency, we can choose to be free and to “…choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27)
But we know that God wants only the best for us, “Adam fell that men might be’ and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25)
We are meant to enjoy this life, learn from it and repent of our wrong doings, while still in the flesh.
Job continues to say that those who commit these atrocious acts of murder, robbery or who commit adultery and all other manner of wickedness will see the morning and to “…them even as the shadow of death…” (Job24:17). Those who are wicked may be prosperous in this life, but in the end, when the morning comes, the judgment will befall them.
At times, we may fall on our knees in despair, and even usher up a prayer… “Heavenly Father, I hope you know, I am having a hard time”. Have you ever felt this way? I know I have, maybe you feel that God has abandoned you, or that He is nowhere to be found. The truth of it all? God is there. He is always there. Sometimes we are left to suffer, that we might know the joy, and we can feel the everlasting glory of his light.