Reflections on Suffering from the Book of Job -- By: Larry J. Waters

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 154:616 (Oct 1997)
Article: Reflections on Suffering from the Book of Job
Author: Larry J. Waters


Reflections on Suffering from the Book of Job

Larry J. Waters

[Larry J. Waters is Professor of Bible, International School of Theology-Asia, Quezon City, Philippines.]

Written by an unknown author, possibly the most ancient literary account in the Bible,1 the Book of Job is a mixture of divine and human wisdom that addresses a major life issue: Why do righteous people suffer undeservedly?2 The Book of Job is also a prime example of Hebrew wisdom literature3 that labors with the concept of theodicy,4 which is a defense of the integrity of the justice and righteousness of God in light of the evil, injustice, and undeserved suffering in the world. Some writers have

suggested that theodicy is the theme of the Book of Job.5 If this is so, then the emphasis of the book is not totally on the man Job and his suffering, though he and his suffering are certainly central, but also on God Himself and His relationship to His supreme creation.

Job therefore is a book dealing with human suffering,6 even though the suffering of the innocent7 does not encompass the author’s entire purpose. It is also more than an ancient play written to portray the absurdities of life, the weaknesses of man, and the prominence of the sovereignty of God.8 The Book of Job shows that the sufferer can question and doubt,9 face the hard questions of life with faith, maintain an unbroken relationship with a loving God, and still come to a satisfactory resolution for personal and collective injustice and undeserved suffering. These observations need to be addressed not only within the context of the suffering by the righteous man Job, but also because many believers today suffer and can identify with Job.10 As Andersen points out, “the problem of suffering, human misery, or the larger sum of evil in all its forms is a problem only for the person who believes in one God who is all-powerful and all loving.”11 Suffering,

then, is the prominent issue that forces a consideration of the deeper questions posed by this concept, especially as it affects the lives of those who have a loving, intimate relationship...

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