From our point of view, Job was tested in order to humble him. For Job, of course, it was a massive problem. We are told once by the author of the book of Job—and twice it’s put into the mouth of God Himself—that Job was a godly man. In fact, Job was the godliest man on the face of the earth.
The conundrum for us is, Why should a righteous man suffer? We can understand why sinners suffer. It’s what they deserve. But why should a godly man suffer? This is the great question in Job. It’s a question Job’s friends answered by saying that he suffered because he sinned: you reap what you sow. They only had one song and they sang it to death.
When God finally comes to Job and speaks in Chapter 38, He asks, “Who is this that speaks words without knowledge?” The answer is Job, who has been asking for a fight. Job has been asking for an epistemological fight, a fight over the issue of the problem of pain, which was very personal for Job. God turns the tables and says, “I will ask the questions, and you will give the answers.” You aren’t expecting that because Job is the one who has been asking questions, and he expects God to answer.
God asks Job all kinds of questions, ranging from caves that man has never explored, to the skies, to the universe and the planetary system, and so on and so forth. Job cannot answer any of them. Then God introduces two creatures, Leviathan and Behemoth. For the purposes of this podcast, let me suggest that Behemoth is a hippopotamus and Leviathan is a crocodile. What does this have to do with Job’s suffering? It has everything to do with Job’s suffering.
Why did God create a crocodile? I’ve given a small amount of money to save the polar bear. I think it would be a tragic, sad world if there were no more polar bears, but I wouldn’t shed a tear if there were no crocodiles in the world. So, why did God make a crocodile? A facetious answer might be handbags, belts, or shoes, but the answer is, “I don’t know.” Pain is like that.
Sometimes the reason God inflicts trials and tribulations in our lives is unknown to us, except the answer from the Shorter Catechism that our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I think that’s what happened in Job’s life—he became prideful and needed to be humbled. He needed to put his hand over his mouth, as he himself said, and acknowledge that God is not obligated to give the reason.
What is important is that God knows why He gives us trials and tribulations and that we trust Him. That is what Job was learning in his afflictions. He needed to learn to trust God, even when he didn’t have all the answers.