We’ve been considering that age-old enquiry, why does God allow his people to suffer? A proper understanding of 2 Corinthians 12:7–10 is of tremendous help.
May we also consider, however, another part of Scripture that illustrates the first, namely, the Book of Job. The three reasons for physical infirmity and personal hardship are clearly evident in Job’s trials. It’s interesting that while the book of Job was the first book of the Bible to be penned, we find Job illustrating what Paul would outline almost 2,000 years later.
First, his trials kept him humble. Job 1 describes Satan’s first assault. All Job’s oxen and donkeys were stolen and many of his servants killed by a nomadic people called the Sabeans. His sheep and other servants were killed by “fire from God” (possibly lightening). His camels were then stolen and more servants killed by the Chaldeans. And, if all that were not enough, his house was destroyed and his sons and daughters killed by a violent windstorm.
Recall a moment the observation of Job’s so‑called “friends.” The main emphasis of all three was that Job’s suffering was because of his sin. As one reads those “explanations,” he cannot keep from seeing today’s attitudes. Today’s “prosperity teachers” tell us that if we give to God, He’ll return our “investment” and make us rich. As the common teaching goes today, I’m sure that if it had been written yet, one of Job’s friends would have said, “Job, you just need to pray the Jabez prayer!” Likewise, today’s “self‑image” teachers would have told Job that his whole problem was that he had “low self-esteem.” Their explanation would have been, “Job, if you just improve your self‑image, your problems will be over” (we will look at this subject in greater detail in our study of verse 8).
But how blessed we are be by Job’s humble response to his suffering: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return” (1:21a). These trials, and later physical and bodily suffering, kept Job humble.
Second, Job’s trials made him submit to God’s will. The rest of Job 1:21 declares: “The Lord gave, and the Lord bath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Then, after Job’s wife suggests he just curse God and die, he replied: “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil [i.e., adversity]?” (2:10). What an attitude! Job was ready to accept anything God gave even though he didn’t understand why. The ultimate submission is recorded in 13:15, one of my favorite verses of Scripture: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” Puritan pastor and commentator Matthew Henry writes this wonderful exposition of this verse, in which he challenges us in a series of six “musts:” “This is a high expression of faith, and what we should all labour to come up to—to trust in God, though he slay us, that is,  we must be well pleased with God as a friend even when he seems to come forth against us as an enemy, Job 23:8-10.  We must believe that all shall work for good to us even when all seems to make against us, Jer 24:5.  We must proceed and persevere in the way of our duty, though it cost us all that is dear to us in this world, even life itself, Heb 11:35.  We must depend upon the performance of the promise when all the ways leading to it are shut up, Ro 4:18.  We must rejoice in God when we have nothing else to rejoice in, and cleave to him, yea, though we cannot for the present find comfort in him.  In a dying hour we must derive from him living comforts; and this is to trust in him though he slay us.”
We’ll conclude next time, but may we each ask ourselves right now, “Am I that trusting of God’s will?”