“The book of Job is the theological elephant in the room of the Prosperity Gospel.”Justin Peters
Recently, we came across a post that was essentially drawing the conclusion that pain and suffering are not a part of God’s plan for your life, but ultimately, Satan’s alone.
Yet, we have to raise the question then…
Isn’t God the one who allowed suffering to happen to Job?
Yes, God is the one who gave Satan the permission, so it was ultimately a part of God’s plan for Job. In fact, it was God who brought Job to Satan’s attention:
“The Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.'”Job 1:8, NASB
And yes, God was faithful to turn it around for him, but Job experienced tremendous pain and loss in his life at the hand of the enemy, yet, God allowed it to happen.
The “double for his trouble” teaching that you hear so often in the prosperity gospel message tries to take the focus off the entire point of the book of Job that reveals to us the beautiful attribute of God’s sovereignty over all things that happen in our world, including pain and suffering. When we try to give more power to Satan than we should, we infer that he “got one passed God” like God was completely unaware it was going to happen.
When a tragic, unexpected death happens, do you shake your fist and proclaim “Not today, Satan! We will make the devil pay!” or do you trust God’s ways are higher than yours and say like our Lord, Jesus, “Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done” and trust that He will use that trial for your good and for His glory?
Absolutely nothing happens a part from God’s sovereign will, not even physical death. He determines when one’s time is up for He is the one who numbers our days (Psalm 139:16).
If God isn’t sovereign over all (including Satan and death and suffering and pain) than God isn’t sovereign at all.
“If there is one maverick molecule in all the universe, then God is not sovereign. And if God is not sovereign, He is not God at all.”R.C. Sproul
Suffering is a reality for everyone on this earth, including believers. To deny that, is to deny reality of the fact that we live in a fallen world and Christians are not exempt from the results of it. Remember, the Apostles suffered greatly and many of them died horrendous deaths as martyrs. But it was all for God’s glory and a part of His sovereign plan for their lives.
James 1:12 shares us a beautiful promise about suffering:
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”NIV
God will use all things to conform us to the image of Christ and often in the life of the believer that includes pain and suffering. In times of suffering, we can pray for God’s mercy to come and cry out for His help in time of trouble, yes, but we must remember Jesus promised that “in this life, there will be trouble” (John 16:33). Yet, we know that He overcame the world for us and we will one day taste of that victory in full when we meet Him face to face!
That is why we must keep our eyes fixed upon the hope of eternity and not on this life. And that is why faith in God is so important because it is the rock on which we stand when trials and the storms of life come because they will. We must remember that our faith in Him means that because of the cross, we are forgiven and now we can have the hope that He never leaves our side and walks with us through the valley and the mountain top experiences and we have the ultimate hope that there is a glorious eternal life that awaits us in Christ Jesus.
That is our anchor…the hope of eternity.
There is a day that awaits believers where all pain and suffering will cease. But until then, we continue to declare “And if not…He is still good” and trust our life in His sovereign hands no matter what comes our way.