Life is difficult. That blunt, three-word statement is an accurate appraisal of our existence on this earth. When the writer of the biblical book named Job picked up his stylus to write his story, he could have begun with a similar-sounding and equally blunt sentence, "Life is unfair."
No one could argue the point that life is punctuated with hardship, heartaches, and headaches. Most of us have learned to face the reality that life is difficult. But unfair? Something kicks in, deep within most of us, making it almost intolerable for us to accept and cope with what's unfair. Our drive for justice overrides our patience with pain.
Life is not just difficult, it's downright unfair. Welcome to Job's world.
Job was a man of unparalleled and genuine piety. He was also a man of well-deserved prosperity. He was a godly gentleman, extremely wealthy, a fine husband, and a faithful father. In a quick and brutal sweep of back-to-back calamities, Job was reduced to a twisted mass of brokenness and grief. The extraordinary accumulation of disasters that hit him would have been enough to finish off any one of us today.
Job is left bankrupt, homeless, helpless, and childless. He's left standing beside the ten fresh graves of his now-dead children in a windswept valley. His wife is heaving deep sobs of grief as she kneels beside him, having just heard him say, "Whether our God gives to us or takes everything from us, we will follow Him." She leans over and secretly whispers, "Why don't you just curse God and die?"
His misery turns to mystery with God's silence. If the words of his so-called friends are hard to hear, the silence of God becomes downright intolerable. Not until the thirty-eighth chapter of the book does God finally break the silence, however long that took. Even if it were just a few months, try to imagine. You've become the object of your alleged friends' accusations, and the heavens are brass as you plead for answers from the Almighty, who remains mysteriously mute. Nothing comes to you by way of comfort. It's all so unfair; you've done nothing to deserve such anguish.
Pause and ponder their grief — and remember that Job has done nothing to deserve such unbearable pain. If it had been you, how would you have responded?
Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, "Life Is Difficult," in Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing, 2005), 226. Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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Follow along in James 5:13–16 and apply its profound truths to your experience. Pastor Chuck Swindoll explains how suffering gives you a unique opening to comfort others and keeps you from trusting in your own abilities.
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