Dead End Job


And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10)

What is it with God and the suffering thing? Does he actually like it? Personally, I find suffering nothing but a pain and would always trade for a good dose of dissipation, but maybe that’s just me.

The Bible is a veritable catalog of suffering. There are the idiots who deserve a little misery. You’ve got your Egyptians, your Philistines, your Canaanites, your Sodomites, and your other assorted Biblical riffraff. They get dumped on because they want to keep their regular gods and make trouble for the Hebrews. Then there are the whining, complaining, rebellious Jews who get whacked for whining, complaining, and rebellion. Though the rules they break might be a bit fuzzy to them, God feels pretty good about sending bad vibes on them. They’re jerks so God jerks their chains. Pretty simple.

But then there are the guys who don’t deserve to suffer. They follow all God’s  rules, say all the right things, are nice to strangers, and still get whomped. The Bible has a lot of these guys too, but the most famous is Job. He was squeaky clean in the God department but God let Satan mess with him bad. Job was what you call an innocent sufferer. That’s why he’s famous. When had put in his suffering time, God gave him back some of the things he had lost, but God didn’t explain anything. The book of Job ends with God telling Job that he’s God and not to forget it. Roll the credits. I want my money back.

Even Jesus wasn’t exempt from suffering. Isaiah prophesied that he would be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” And once it’s been prophesied it’s pretty much a requirement. So Jesus dutifully suffered rejection, persecution, and ended up nailed to a cross, which has to rank with the top three sufferings of all time, alongside dentist visits and the torture of the national anthem at sporting events.

But none of this explains why suffering is one of God’s favorite things. The Bible says that Jesus “learned obedience through what he suffered.” You’d think that Jesus, being the Son of God, would be a quicker learner than that. I would have pegged him as a whiz kid, but I guess he didn’t do well in all subjects. But suffering as a learning tool? Give me a set of counting blocks any day.

So that brings us to the rest of us. Peter tells us that after we have suffered a little while God will restore us and make us strong. I guess that’s good news . . . sort of. But why make us suffer in the first place if God’s going to restore us and make us strong anyway. Why not do that right away and bag the whole suffering thing altogether? And why does God wait for a little while before he does anything? Is there a minimum suffering period before it counts? And just how long would that be?  Speaking for myself, I’m pretty much done with any kind of suffering within the first five seconds.

Maybe some day God will tell us what the big deal with suffering is. Until then it’s probably a good idea to keep some Advil around.


One Response

  1. Amen on the Advil thing. I wonder if Job would have turned out differently if he had Advil available?

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