READ: Job 40-42
THINK: So, what's the conclusion? Why does God allow people to suffer? The bottom line is that suffering and evil are normal in a world that persistently defies God, and everyone who passes through this world will be affected by suffering. While we'll never understand all the reasons for specific troubles, we can take comfort in the fact that God will fulfill His purposes through and in spite of suffering. In the process, He can strengthen faith and character, spark spiritual growth and change, and ultimately bring people into an eternal relationship with Christ-who suffered for all of us. The next time you find yourself facing unexplained adversity, remember that the Lord listens to your sincere questions and frustrations, but He doesn't want you to focus on the source or reason for suffering. Instead, He wants you to concentrate on how you can respond and grow closer to Him through it. As with Job, if you stay faithful, He will eventually reveal His presence and care in a greater way.
RESPOND: In what way does God challenge Job's questions about God's justice and Job's suffering? (See 40:2 note.) In light of God's reply, how did Job's view of his situation change? (See 40:4 note.) How did God's persistent questions actually reveal His patience? (See 40:6 note.) What had Job learned through all of this? (See 42:1 and 42:3 notes.) In regard to Satan's accusations against Job (1:9-11; 2:4-5), what did Job prove by recommitting to God while still suffering? (See 42:3 note, subpoint 3.) How did God's presence reassure Job? (See 42:5 note.) How did Job's repentance affect his attitude? (See 42:6 note.) Though the book of Job never offers a final solution to the issue of undeserved suffering, what source of comfort does it reveal, and how can Christ's followers experience His comforting presence? (See 42:7 first note, subpoints 2 & 3.) Why did God reprimand Job's friends? (See 42:7 second note.) How and why had Job been "right" compared to his friends? (See 42:7 third note and 42:8 note.) What was the most important thing Job gained through it all? (See 42:10 note, subpoint 1.)
PRAY: Ask God to help you submit to His care, even when you don't understand His purposes. Thank Him for being patient with your questions and misunderstandings and for helping you glow closer to Him through difficulty or suffering. Praise God for His ultimate wisdom and justice and for the comforting presence of His Holy Spirit.
ACT: Think of a time when you went through some type of pain or suffering. What lessons did you learn about life, yourself and God? How has that experience helped you become better prepared for adversity in the future? Apply those lessons to a current situation in your life, or use your experience to encourage someone who is going through a similar trial. Keep in mind that God's work and purpose in this person's life may differ from your experience.
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