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God’s Silence in Suffering

Published: 1 month ago- 7 April 2024
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So I’ve started this podcast recently, from the beginning of the year. In which my co-host Steff and I look to address real questions, that real people have, and find real answers.

There are lots of questions. Our list is long and complex and includes questions such as, why do I feel lonely despite having close friends and family? why does my work matter and how can I find fulfilment in it? what’s a reasonable amount of happiness to expect in life? and even questions like ‘How do I deal with my shame?’.

They’re not all as deep and complex as that, but they’re all questions that people at the moment have about life. And we all have our own personal questions about life, don’t we? Why does this person I love have cancer, what is my purpose in life, where do I fit in? But a question that we all have had at one point, maybe one that we continue to have even now, is why is there suffering? Why do we suffer? How do we suffer?

Even as a Christian, I’ve found myself asking about suffering even though Jesus has come, the son of God, has come – lived – died – been resurrected – and then ascended, and yet we still suffer. Why is there unjust or undeserved suffering, why is there famine or war or homelessness? How do we manage this?

How do we persevere when we get diagnosed with a serious illness, or someone we love does? For me, my 5-month old daughter Sophia has a serious and complex heart condition, why does she have that? How do I live through that, where is God in that? There are many many good and hard questions about life – but the question of suffering is perhaps one of the hardest questions that anyone will ask.

That’s exactly what the book of Job wrestles with. Suffering. 42 chapters of it. Now I want to point out that it doesn’t specifically answer that big question of why there is suffering, but we’ll see as we go through, that it has a lot to say on how to persevere through suffering.


Grab your bibles and have them open, lets look from chapter 1.

Now at the start of the book of Job you could almost insert a “Once upon a time… ” before verse 1. “Once upon a time in the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job”, almost like it’s a fairy tale. And it’s an interesting point to make because the book of Job in and of itself is very poetic and dramatic in nature. And you see that from its very first interaction, is indeed poetic and dramatic and even bizarre, as Satan and God interact.

So chapter 1, we’re introduced to Job. The man who is just the bee’s knees. In fact, we see that he is the greatest man among all the people in the east. He has 10 children, many livestock and stacks of servants. While Job is just enjoying life, we get this glimpse into a heavenly meeting in between the Angels and God, and Satan decides to intrude.

Read with me from verse 6.

6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.

7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

Okay so lets pause here. We see God asks Satan 2 questions. The first one is ‘Where have you come from?’. Now don’t mistake this for God not knowing where Satan exactly was. Biblical scholars think the writer of the book of Job included this to show God’s ‘humanness’ in conversation and asking questions. But in contrast we see the all-knowing nature of God with his second question. Because when Satan replies to God and says, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” God’s follow-up shows that he knows what Satan has been up to, most likely tempting and testing people from all across the earth, because God asks Satan if he has considered his servant Job. And what we see next is Satan’s nature as the deceiver and liar.

“Does Job Fear God for nothing?” he asks. Have you not given him everything he could ever desire? Is he not the most prosperous man in the East? He has stature in the community, many descendants, many servants and flocks and flocks of livestock. Why wouldn’t he fear you – you’ve given him everything anyone could ever want. Take that away from him Satan says, and he will surely curse you and turn his back on you. And so God permits Satan to bring suffering upon Job.

Notice however in verse 12, that God puts the conditions around that suffering. It’s such an interesting part of the passage. God allowing Satan to cause IMMENSE suffering on Job – but he also has complete control over the situation. Those two things are not the same. God allowing suffering is not God causing suffering. We’ll see later on in Job what God has to say about exactly this. But let’s keep moving.

What we see happen next is just the complete and utter destruction of Job’s life. As Job is visited by his 4 remaining servants, the only ones left to serve as messengers to Job of all that he has lost. The Sabeans came into the fields, killed the servants tending the donkeys and oxen, and took off with them, before an almighty fire burned up the sheep and his shepherds, the Chaldeans came and killed the servants tending to the camels, and took of with them, and finally – most devastatingly. An ‘almighty wind’ swept in from the desert and collapsed the house where his 7 sons and 3 daughters were feasting, killing all 10 of his children.

Within a matter of moments all that Job had was lost. Except for his love of the Lord.

Look with me at V20. At this Job tore his robe, shaved his head as a symbol of profound loss, anguish, grief, mourning and lament. Before he falls to the ground… AND HE WORSHIPS GOD. From being the greatest man of all the people in the east – to nothing. He has lost his children, his servants, and his livestock, and yet he worships.

V21 “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord Yahweh gave and Yahweh has taken away. MAY THE NAME OF YAHWEH BE PRAISED. V22 in All of this, Job did not Sin.

Isn’t this just incredible – the man has lost everything and he praises and worships God. Despite his immense and overwhelming emotions and lament. He falls to the ground and worships.

Does anyone else in this moment just feel a great contrast between themselves and Job?

Like, I’m the kind of guy, that when I am at Chermside shopping centre, often not at my own choice, and I’m circling the parking lot looking for that perfect park and I spot it. It’s right over there. It’s a beauty of a park. I’m talking right in front of the entrance, plenty of space to get the pram out of the boot, no pole next to it that I could scrape my car on. And when I have a screaming child in the back it’s possibly the best park in the southern hemisphere. And right as I get around the corner to begin to park in what is truly the silver lining of my trip to Chermside shops – a little hatch, imagine like a little Suzuki Swift or something ridiculous like that, zips in, does the worst park in the world and like that, before my eyes – it’s gone. The park of my DREAMS. Gone in an instant. The park destined to be mine is taken from me. And I can promise you – my words of choice in that moment, are not in worship to God. And it wasn’t even mine! It didn’t belong to me, It’s a parking space for heavens sake.

But for Job, he loses it all. There is no future for Job’s family name to continue, there are no servants, there is no livestock. And yet he falls. To the ground. And says. May the name of the Yahweh the Lord be praised. He weeps, he tears his robe he shaves his head and he falls to his knees. Job is experiencing immense grief, and he expresses that. But he then worships God.

How many of us can say, that our first reaction to grief or suffering is worship? Because it sure is not something that I do. This example of worship in times of suffering is also what we see from Jesus. As he prays in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is filled with sorrow and trouble, yet he worships and prays that the Father’s will be done. And so the call for us, is that in our suffering – we are to worship our God.

The suffering that we see in chapter 1 however, is not where it stops for Job. When it rains, it pours, right? Like you’d think at this point it can’t get much worse than that. But Chapter 2 sees Satan and God engage in what is almost an identical conversation to chapter 1, but instead this time when God offers Job for Satan’s testing and tempting, the Liar says, of course he did not curse you before, a man will give all he has to save his own life! Put that in jeopardy and you will see the man curse you. And so for the second time, God allows Satan to inflict suffering on Job.

And so Satan in Chapter 2 verse 7 inflicts Job with such severe and painful sores that Job was scraping himself with broken pottery in an attempt to find relief. This was so severe that even Job’s wife comes to him and says “just curse God and die”. But no, not Job. In all of this Job did not Sin. But for Job, in all of this, God remained silent.

That’s something that’s really hard to come to terms with, isn’t it? Silence from God. It’s even harder when you are grieving and mourning and suffering. And you don’t understand why what’s happening is happening. I’m sure we’ve all had that feeling at some point, Jesus even had that feeling when he said on the cross, “My God my God why have you forsaken me?”

My encouragement to us as we continue to look through the book of Job, that although there are times in our suffering, sometimes LONG periods of time where God seems silent. He never remains silent, and he is always at work in our suffering.


Whilst Job is just in the pits of despair three of Job’s best mates have heard about what has happened to him, and have set out to comfort him. Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite. when these three friends saw Job from a distance they didn’t even recognise him because of how great his suffering was. And so For 7 days and 7 nights his three mates sat with him in silence in the ashes.

And after 7 days and 7 nights, Job does indeed curse.

But it’s not God that he curses. No, in his great lament Job curses the day he was born. Chapter 3 V 1 “After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.” V11 he says “Why did I not perish at birth and die as I came from the womb?” Despite all that Job has gone through and the suffering he has experienced. he still refuses to curse God. Still he does not sin against God, but one of the things that we do see, is that Job is completely overcome with grief. We’ll get to that in a minute. But Job’s three friends also seem to have picked up a wrong assumption about Job as well. And so whilst when we’re first introduced to his friends, they just seem to do everything right, from chapter 4, we see that they actually aren’t the friends we thought they were.

In fact, from chapter 4 where Eliphaz the Temanite replies to Job’s lament, he essentially accuses Job. Chapter 4 vs 7 he says “Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed?” Verse 8 Eliphaz says “But if I were you, I would appeal to God!..” Verse 17 “Can a mortal be more righteous than God?”

Eliphaz is essentially saying, well Job, you must have done something to upset God for you to be suffering in this way. Job doesn’t agree. This debate over why this suffering has engulfed Job continues for the next 28 chapters of the book of Job. Job speaks, then Eliphaz, then Job, then Bildad, then Job, then Zophar over and over again this continues as Job’s ‘friends’ implore Job to come before God in repentance, but Job believes he has done nothing wrong, and is unjustly suffering.

And so their basic argument is, if you’re having a worse life than other people, than you must be a worse person than other people, because God blesses good people and they have good lives, and God curses bad people and bad people have bad lives. You have the latter Job, therefore you need to repent and turn to God. Now sometimes, there is truth to this logic. Our justice system is a good example of this. If you break the law, then you’re apprehended, sentenced and put in jail. But this simple logic just doesn’t seem to apply to the man in which God presented to us as blameless and upright. And so again, we’re brought to recognise the existence of unjust suffering.

So on and on this debate goes. Job goes three rounds with each of his friends until Zophar taps out at the end not speaking a third time, and in chapter 31 verse 40, Job’s words are ended. His three friends or frenemies have stopped answering him because we see in Chapter 32v1 they believed he was righteous in his own eyes, and there was nothing that anyone could say to change this. Throughout this whole period, God remained silent to Job.

And so finally in Chapter 38, the Lord Yahweh does not remain silent to Job any longer.


Chapter 38 to 41 are powerful chapters of the might and control of God as they demonstrate his power and knowledge beyond our understanding. Chapter 38v4, God says to Job,

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?

V16 Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? TELL ME IF YOU KNOW ALL THIS.

Verse 31 Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s Belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons? Or lead out the Bear with its cubs?

Over three chapters God displays his magnificence. He demonstrates his design for creation, his control over nature and the earth and animals, he explains his desire for order in creation. You see in his complaining and lament, Job demanded an audience with God to give appeal for his righteousness, but when God asks for a response from Job in chapter 40, Job can’t respond. This is where God summarises perfectly Job’s problem Which I think can be ours sometimes too. Verse 8. “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?”

You see, what God is demonstrating to Job and I think to us as well, is that he creates, plans, purposes, and even allows suffering – according to his own will which only He is able to understand. What God doesn’t do here is explain to Job why he has suffered. What God does do, is explain who He is.

And so in the end, Job’s response to God is that of humility. Chapter 42v1 Then Job replied to the Lord. I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things that are too wonderful for me to know. Previously I knew of you, now I know you.

And what happens in this moment, is that Job without doubt or complaint or impatience loves God for who he is, rather than what he gives him. Verse 7 of Chapter 42 we see that God is pleased with Job and that he refers to him as his servant and one who has spoken the truth about him.

And then God restores Job. Job’s health is restored, his wealth his restored, and his family is restored. Twice as much as before.


And so we’re left with a question, why did God allow Job to suffer.

Well, 42 chapters later, we still don’t know exactly. We see that Satan caused the suffering, and we see that God allowed it – but we don’t really see why. One possible reason is in 42:8 we see that God uses Job as an intercessor for Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar and tells the 3 fiends to go to Job, make a sacrifice and have him pray for you. And so maybe God used Job’s suffering to bring a greater understanding to his 3 friends? Just like how Jesus intercedes for us.

Maybe Job suffered to serve as an example of righteous suffering leading to glory? Like Romans 5 tells us,

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

42 chapters later, we still don’t know the exact reason why Job suffered. But I think there are 2 main points that we should consider for our lives.

The first thing is that the book of Job shows us how we are to suffer, in worship and in prayer.

Because all throughout the time that Job is debating with his friends and grieving and suffering, he isn’t just talking there… he’s praying. He’s talking to God.

He’s complaining about life but he’s talking to God about it. He’s questioning God but he’s talking to God about it! And that’s how we’re to persevere in our suffering as well. Be real, be emotional, have grief and lament and bring your losses and burdens and complain and have remorse and cry out! Pray to God.

What we shouldn’t do in this moment of suffering, Is walk away as if we know better than God about how things ought to be going in the world or even in our own lives. This happens way too often. People too easily believe that the existence of suffering is proof that God doesn’t exist, that living life as a follower of Jesus just isn’t worth it because it doesn’t alleviate your suffering.

But just because we don’t know God’s purposes and plans for the suffering in the world or our own suffering, does not mean that there isn’t a plan or purpose. In that moment, we need to come to God in prayer. Just because in our suffering God might seem silent, doesn’t mean that we should be. We need to be pouring out our hearts in prayer to God.

The book of Job shows and promises that God does not remain silent in our suffering, and that he understand how we feel in our suffering. Which is how he can show up and vindicate Job at the end. Because even though Job expressed his grief, he stayed with God and he did it with God. And we get this raw but beautiful picture of how God can use suffering to bring us to into greater knowledge and dependence and love of him.

Job also showed us to worship in our suffering. This is something that I think is our last instinct. That in moment of personal trial and tragedy, to worship God. But we know that God hasn’t caused our suffering, and we know that the day is coming where he will fulfill his promise of no more suffering because of what Jesus has done. And so in those times of suffering, in those times of silence from God, we wait, we pray and we worship.

The second thing and final thing that I think we can learn from the book of Job is that though we will experience suffering, Especially since suffering is guaranteed for us as followers of Christ, and though we may experience unjust and unfair suffering, Job points towards a day, that there is a day coming where we will suffer no more.

One of the great imageries that we get from Job, although not perfect is that the person of Job that God presented to us is essentially innocent, he was a righteous man who feared and obeyed the Lord and suffered greatly due to no fault or sin of his own. There is another perfect and innocent man that suffered ultimately in order that we might be restored and redeemed to God. Jesus.

Jesus was the ultimate sinless sufferer. The one without any blame and without any blemish, who silently withstood being sentenced to death, and ultimately died whilst doing no wrong for our sins. So that we might be redeemed and restored by God.

And even more than that, that this redemption and our ultimate restoration in heaven is secured forever and for eternity! And really what Jesus death and resurrection has done for us, has allowed us to love God for who he is. Not only does that enable us to endure suffering, but that in those moments of suffering, we get the greatest joy of being able to Love God knowing that one day our suffering will be no more.

And so our great assurance now, is that whilst Jesus’ suffering on the cross doesn’t eliminate our suffering now, and that we don’t always understand why we’re suffering – we have the certain hope that one day we will suffer no more. God has already had the final word on our suffering, in sending his Son to die and save us, our suffering today is temporary. And our perseverance through it will bring about redemption and glory.

As Christians we are called to lament in suffering, worship and pray to God in our suffering, and have patience in knowing that there is a day coming where suffering will end. We’re going to live with him forever in eternity and He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the older order of things has passed away. A day where we will never need to ask why do we suffer, or how do we suffer, because that day will be the day where suffering will exist no more. And so until that day, we worship and we pray, and we wait.