There are many people among us today who understand completely the physical suffering and pain that Job is going through. However, we all need to put ourselves back into that specific culture in which we find Job living, to better understand what he was feeling emotionally and spiritually.
In the Jewish culture of his time, the people ascribed everything to the direct action of God. If everyone keeps the laws of God as spelt out in the Holy Scriptures, then they would be blessed. However, if they disobeyed, then punishment was the outcome. Accordingly, if wars were lost, or disease was rampant, 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 experienced an illness or sickness, then that too was ascribed to God. “Obviously,” the surrounding people would conclude, this man has “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 necessarily punishment from the Lord. One only has to remember the teaching of Jesus himself, who said that the death of the workmen killed by the fall of the Tower of Siloam, or those killed in Galilee by King Herod, was not punishment from God. So in 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 therein 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!).