There are many people among us today who understand completely the physical suffering and pain that Job is going through. However, to better understand what Job was feeling, emotionally and spiritually; we have to put ourselves back into that specific culture in which we find Job living,.
In the Jewish culture of his time, the people believed everything was the direct action of God. If everyone kept the laws of God as spelt out in the Holy Scriptures, then they would be blessed. But, on the other hand, if they disobeyed, then punishment was believed to be the result. Consequently, if wars were lost, or disease was extensive, or drought was being experienced, it was considered to be the judgment of the Lord brought about by the immoral and unjust actions of the people.
Similarly, if an individual person became sick or went down with an illness then that too was caused by God. “Obviously,” the surrounding people would conclude, this man had “sinned” because he is now sick. The Jewish people had not yet reached the evolving understanding of God’s revelation of His permissive will, as contrasted with His directive will.
Today, we know that we have a Saviour who hears every single one of our prayers and petitions. We also know that illness, sickness, mental and physical challenges are not actually punishment from the Lord. One only has to remember the teaching of Jesus himself, who said that the death of the workmen killed when the Tower of Siloam fell on them, or those killed in Galilee by King Herod, was not God’s punishment. So with confidence, we always turn to our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who promised to hear our prayers and also to answer them.
At the same time, we offer up our daily sufferings to Christ, uniting them with his cross, for whatever redemptive value they have for the benefit of others. Perhaps this may be the greater value: to help open the gates of heaven for others through redemptive suffering. This is a great mystery; but we had a great Teacher, and in him lies our Hope!
It is by faith and reflection on the Holy Scriptures that we grow in our understanding of the meaning of the Redemption that Jesus won for us. In his humanity, Jesus had to learn obedience through suffering; we’re called to that same trust in God’s will and obedience to him in our situation in life, knowing that his plan will be accomplished through his people (that’s us!).