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Struggling to Understand God’s Plan

October 18, 2021

Why does God allow things to happen?

Struggling to Understand God’s Plan

By Ellen Ceely

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?’” - Job 38:1-7

Have you ever wondered why God allowed something to happen? Did you pause to ask God and seek his advice in prayer?

Job is a fascinating story. Though lengthy and admittedly tedious at times, it provides one of the most interesting insights we have into how God’s power functions. Chapter 1 tells us that Job was a righteous and wealthy man. He had ten children and countless animals. He feared God and regularly offered sacrifices on behalf of his children in case they had sinned. Not only did he want to be right with the Lord, but he also wanted his children to be as well.

One day, the angels presented themselves before the Lord, and with them came Satan. God tells Satan that there is no one like Job in all the earth in his dedication to the Lord. But Satan claims that Job only serves God because God’s been good to him and blessed him with riches and a large family. So God gives Satan permission to take away everything Job has—to show that Job will still love God for who God is and not what God has given him.

Job loses everything, including his children. In chapter 2, God even gives Satan permission to inflict Job with sores all over his body! He doesn’t lose his wife. Instead, she tells him he should just curse God and die. Most of the rest of the book is a conversation between Job and his friends as they try to figure out why Job is suffering.

Finally, we see God respond to Job in chapter 38. He doesn’t explain how his relationship with Satan works or give Job a specific reason for what happened to him. Instead, he challenges Job. For thirty-four chapters, Job and his friends have philosophized about who God is and why he chose to allow Job to suffer in this way, never bothering to stop and pray and seek God’s wisdom and strength. Job’s friends believe Job is being punished for his sin, while Job spirals into self-pity.

God’s answer can seem harsh. After all, Job has lost everything: his wealth, his family, and his health. But God isn’t dismissing Job’s pain. He’s challenging Job’s assumptions and his foolishness in listening for so long to his friends. If Job truly wanted understanding, he should have gone to God in humility and surrender, remembering that God is the one who laid the foundation of the earth.

Reflection:
Is there an area in your life where you’re struggling to understand God’s plan? Have you gone to him and surrendered your doubts and pain to his care? Have you asked him for strength and wisdom as you walk through this challenging time? Take some time today to seek him and listen for his voice. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

Related Resource:

Trusting God

Why is trust so difficult? Unlike all the broken promises of this world, God’s redeeming promises are absolute, trustworthy, and true. The covenants of God afford us with abundant reasons to trust God with his plan for our lives. Trusting God: Redeeming Promises of the Word small group Bible study explores the six major redeeming promises of God found in his Word. Learn more about God’s commitment to his people, the nature of a covenant, and how you can find your security in being a child of God’s redeeming promises. Learn more about God’s promises today.




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