What the Book of Job Teaches Us About Unexplainable Suffering

Job

The makers of the Bible Project have made an animated video that explains the theme behind one of the most complex books of the Bible. In the following video, the book of Job is examined and the theme is presented that even though we don’t understand why some suffering and hardship exist, God is still wise and just.

First it’s necessary to understand the context of Job. Job is part three of the wisdom literature of the Bible, which is made up of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and finally Job. In Proverbs, we are told that God is wise and just. Throughout the book, the following theme emerges: The wicked will be punished and the righteous rewarded. You get what you deserve.

Ecclesiastes has a more tempered, humble, and borderline cynical view of the world and justice in particular. The writer of Ecclesiastes seems to be telling us the world isn’t always fair; life is oftentimes difficult and hard to comprehend.

This is where the book of Job enters the scene: Right as the reader is questioning God’s wisdom and justice.

The video gives a succinct explanation of the plot of the book, which is helpful considering the poetic language with which the book was written. It’s easy to get lost in the long speeches of Job’s friends and Job’s replies to their speeches.

One of the observations the makers of the video offer is that Job is on an emotional roller coaster. At times, he is convinced God is just and good. Other times he accuses God of being “reckless, unfair and corrupt.” His emotional outbursts allow us to see him as a real, flesh-and-blood character who responds to the suffering he undergoes. It helps us to think of him, not as a one-dimensional character who had this incredible tenacity to endure hardship, but as a real person who honestly didn’t deserve the suffering he was experiencing.

Job asks God to come explain his actions (or lack thereof) concerning him. Instead of addressing Job’s situation particularly, though, God takes Job on a virtual tour of the universe. God asks Job if he understands how the world works, or how to take care of it and keep it running. God finishes his curious answer by talking about two massive beasts and how they are stunningly strong and dangerous, yet are a part of His good world.

The intention behind God’s response seems to be to demonstrate to Job that he couldn’t comprehend the complexity of the reality God manages even if he wanted to. It’s much too big for him.

This answer leaves Job in a place of humility. He never learns why he is suffering—only that God is wise and just and that we can’t see the whole picture of what God manages from our limited perspective. If we could see and comprehend the whole thing, perhaps we would understand why we are suffering.

By the end of the book, we see that God has given Job double what he had before. However, the video emphasizes we shouldn’t think of this occurrence as Job passing a test and God rewarding him for it. Job wasn’t being punished in the first place, and him getting everything back isn’t a reward. In the end, we don’t know why God decided to give him this gift.

By the end of the book, we see that “Job is now the kind of person who, no matter what comes, good or bad, he can trust God’s wisdom.” He is a tried and tested person of faith, and perhaps this experience has gotten him a little closer to understanding the deep complexities of the universe.

If you enjoyed this video from the Bible Project, you’ll like these as well:

Animated Explanation of ‘The Messiah’

Do You Understand the Psalms?

Understanding the Book of Proverbs

The Gospel of the Kingdom

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