Was God Just Using Job as a Guinea Pig?

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Occasionally I hear people ask why God used Job for a guinea pig. Why did God allow Job to be tortured just for the sake of making a point to Satan? Was Job just a pawn in God and Satan’s chess game?

At first glance it may appear so, but let’s look a little closer. First of all it is said of God,

In all their suffering he also suffered, Isaiah 63:9 NLT

While watching a documentary on the holocaust, I heard a woman talking about seeing a small child killed by a concentration camp officer. She said, when that happened, she stopped believing in God. She didn’t understood that God was suffering with that poor child.

No, that in and of itself does not answer all the questions as to why God allowed Job to suffer and the holocaust to happen. But if He is suffering just as much as everyone else, it does tell me God is not using humanity or Job as a guinea pig or as pawns in some chess match with Satan. I don’t have to have all the answers to trust God. If God allowed sin and suffering, knowing it would cost Him His own dear Son on the cross, then I know there must be a good reason.

Job’s friends came up with a quick answer to the problem of suffering. Surely Job brought this upon himself! For some reason we feel better about God allowing pain and suffering if we figure that people somehow deserve suffering. When we do this we misunderstand the character of God. Fact is God does not want to see anyone suffer, even if they deserve it.

Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. Ezekiel 18:23 NLT

So while we are prone to draw peace from knowing people deserve to suffer or brought it upon themselves, the fact that they may deserve it is no consolation to God. He hurts just the same.

Even though Job’s friends might not have had the right attitude, Job did learn and grow through his suffering. While he maintained his innocence for the most part of the story, at the end, Job said,

I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance. Job 42:6 NLT

While Job’s friends may have been more than a little rough on him, Job did have some precious lessons to learn, and yes, some precious revelations of God’s grace that could only be found through suffering. Even though God bragged on Job in the first chapter, He did not imply that Job had “arrived.” Job still had some things to learn about himself, and his need for God’s righteousness. Theologians have been trying to answer the question for ages, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” In fact, they’ve come up with a fancy name for it – theodicy. 1 The question why bad things happen to good people is actually hypothetical, because, there are no good people for bad things to happen to!

No one does good, not a single one. Romans 3:12 NLT

Job grew throughout the story, and in his suffering became more intimate with his Redeemer.

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought! Job 19:25-27 NLT

God did not allow Job to suffer like a guinea pig so God could prove a point to Satan. Job had to suffer to learn obedience just like Jesus did.

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. Hebrews 5:8 NLT

The suffering and obedience led both Jesus and Job into intimacy with the Father. Again, I do not know why. Maybe you do and can comment below. But for now it is enough for me to know that if Jesus had to suffer too, there must be a good reason. My theory is simply that anything that was proven to Satan was not the main event. Job’s character growth and intimacy with God was the main event. The things Job endured were not just to put on some show for the devil to see. They were to bring Job closer to God, and to realize joys and victories, and yes and intimacy with God, that could not have been realized any other way.

  1. Theodicy covers a little more ground than just the question of why good people suffer. It deals with the questions of God’s goodness in the presence of evil. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Why Did God Allow That to Happen?

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Friends, as I take a look at this Sabbath  lesson’s “The Week at a Glance: What are the causes of the difficult times that we experience through our lives?” I am discouraged myself. I just got off the phone with a friend, who lost his son a year ago, and has had a wife in and out of the hospital since Thanksgiving. He has his own health issues, and now he just informed me this evening, his wife is back in the hospital with a broken hip. Speculation is she broke her hip in the hospital that just sent her home last week. I don’t have all the answers, if any at all, because at this point I am crying out to God, “How much is one family supposed to take?” 

I have to be honest, the last several years have been good to me. But I remember going through the fire and asking God how much more I was supposed to take. Friends told me my trials were so I could develop patience. I told them if everything would just go my way I wouldn’t need patience! Friends told me God was working on my character. So I woke up the next morning and suggested to God we just take a break from working on my character for a while. Just let me enjoy life for a while. It seemed everything was a crisis, a trial or some moral dilemma. I just wanted to enjoy the carefree days of my youth again. But while I may have more questions than answers tonight I have learned a few things about what causes the difficult times in our lives, or why they come our way.

Sure we have all seen the Facebook meme, that says “Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is because we are stupid and make stupid choices.” As funny as that may sound there is a lot of truth to that. Sometimes we create our own problems. Years ago I was going through a breakup with my fiancée, and had lost my job. Nothing was going right. I moved to a new apartment and changed banks. I threw the old checks away in the apartment dumpster. You guessed it. As if I did not have enough going on, now I had to take off from my new job to go to the police station on several occasions and prove to them I did not write those checks. That had nothing to do with God working on my character. It had nothing to do with my former girlfriend or my job. There was a reason for it all though. The reason for it all was because I made a stupid choice and threw the checks away without shredding them. Still I survived everything. Even Agur, who shared his wisdom in Proverbs said, 

I am too stupid to be human, and I lack common sense. Proverbs 30:2 NLT 

Sure enough sometimes our own stupidity is the only reason for our problems. Good news is God looks out for stupid people like Agur and me. By the way I realized my own foolishness. I did not need anyone to tell me, and I do not need to tell anyone else they are stupid. Only a narcissist will try to make someone else feel stupid. And actually I don’t feel stupid. I know I am not alone. I just thought while we are looking for reasons for difficult times, we can’t ignore this explanation. 

Another reason for difficult times is it does indeed increase our faith. When you were in school you may have noticed the math books often had the answers in the back of the book. But your teacher did not want you to just write the answer down. She wanted you to work the problem out and show why “X” is the answer. You worked the problem out, not to find the answer as much as you did to find out why it was the answer. The Bible tells us Jesus is the answer. But we need to work out our problems in life for the same reason we needed to work out our math problems in school. So we know why Jesus is the answer. In Mark 4:35-40 Jesus tells His disciples to cross the lake in a boat. A huge storm comes. Jesus knew that storm was coming when He told His disciples to cross the lake. After calming the storm Jesus asked His disciples why they didn’t have any faith. But weren’t they showing faith when they asked Him to calm the storm? Sure, but that is not what Jesus was talking about. When Jesus said, “Where is your faith?” He was asking them why they needed Him to calm the storm, instead of just riding out the storm with Him. After all, sailboats can’t get anywhere without some wind. Sometimes its the storms that get us to where we need to be. Why should Jesus calm a storm He just sent them into? The storm was there for a reason. We show more faith and growth when we ride the storm out with Jesus, instead of asking Him to calm every little wind that blows our way. I am reminded of a saying, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” Maybe instead of asking God to calm every storm we should ask Him for dancing lessons. 

But my friend’s phone call tonight is still on my mind. After all they have been through I don’t think God needs to work on their faith and character anymore, but then again I am not God and I really have no clue. I do remember a similar experience with my own mother. She had tons of health issues, and had been battling cancer when she fell and broke her hip. Again I thought, come on God! How much more can my poor mother take! My mother ended up making it through not one but two hip surgeries. I was sure the broken hip was going to do her in. But it didn’t! I honestly believe the rehab made her more strong and determined! My aunt who was a nurse agreed with me. Instead of killing her it made her stronger. She lived several years after the broken hip. When she was diagnosed with cancer she was given 2 to 3 years to live, and that was if she took the treatments. She refused the treatments and lived 12 more years. I truly think the broken hip gave her a reason to fight and get some of those 12 years. 

After all, I remember when I got sick many years ago and had to go to the emergency room. I did not have good insurance like I do now and was left with quite a bill. I called a friend who was remodeling their home and asked if I could work on the side for them to earn the extra money to pay the medical bill. In the end I made way more money than what I owed on the medical bill. My trip to the emergency room created an opportunity to get a side job where I not only paid the bill, but turned my whole financial situation around for the better. 

Sometimes we go through difficult times to grow our faith and develop our character. Sometimes it is so we can be more sympathetic to others. 

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT 

Its very important we assure others who are suffering that they are not suffering alone. Of course that does not mean we have to “one up” their suffering. Actually when people are suffering they don’t need us to share our problems, they just need us to listen to theirs. But we need to know we are not alone in suffering. In the movie Black Hawk Down, an  entire military troop is injured. The general tells the private to take a Humvee load of injured soldiers to the hospital. The private protests, “But sir I am injured.” To which the general responds, “Everyone is injured!” We may have to be injured caregivers at times, but even then we are not alone. 

Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. 1 Peter 5:9 NLT  (last part)

Satan wants us to feel alone and isolated in our sufferings, but our sufferings should actually bring us all closer together. 

Job’s friends did a miserable job of trying to comfort Job with all their philosophy. I doubt I have done any better at answering Sabbath’s question at a glance, concerning what causes difficult times. Like I said earlier, after getting off the phone tonight with my friend I have more questions than answers about why God has allowed them to suffer so. But while I don’t have the answers, God has given us some promises. 

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. Romans 8:18 NLT 

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NLT 

Please pray for my friend who called me  tonight, and for his wife. Please pray for everyone who has had more than their fair share of difficulties lately. By the way, I said earlier, “to be honest the last several years have been good to me.” Well to be more honest, God has always been good to me, All. The. Days. Of. My. Life. 

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6 NLT 

If not before, when we get to God’s house, we will understand better why we went through such difficult times, and we will have many triumphs to celebrate. We will also see that even in the difficult times, God’s goodness and mercy were with us, all the days of our life. 

Was Job Just a Guinea Pig?

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Occasionally I hear people ask why God used Job for a guinea pig. Why did God allow Job to be tortured just for the sake of making a point to Satan? Was Job just a pawn in God and Satan’s chess game?

At first glance it may appear so, but let’s look a little closer. Fist of all it is said of God,

In all their suffering he also suffered, Isaiah 63:9 NLT

Whatever pain Job felt, God felt it too. While watching a documentary on the holocaust, I heard a woman talking about seeing a small child killed by a concentration camp officer. She said, when that happened, she stopped believing in God. If only she had understood that God was suffering with that poor child. No, that in and of itself does not answer all the questions as to why God allowed Job to suffer and the holocaust to happen, but it does tell me God is not using humanity or Job as a guinea pig or as pawns in some chess match with Satan, if He is suffering just as much as everyone else. I don’t have to have all the answers to trust God. If God allowed sin and suffering, knowing it would cost Him His own dear Son on the cross, then I know there must be a good reason.

Job’s friends came up with a quick answer to the problem of suffering. Surely Job brought this upon himself! For some reason we feel better about God allowing pain and suffering if we figure they somehow deserve it. When we do this we misunderstand the character of God. Fact is God does not want to see anyone suffer, even if they deserve it.

Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. Ezekiel 18:23 NLT

So while we are prone to draw peace form knowing people deserved to suffer, or brought it upon themselves, the fact that they may deserve it is no consolation to God. He hurts just the same.

Even though Job’s friends might not have had the right attitude, Job did learn and grow through his suffering. While he maintains his innocence for the most part of the story, at the end, Job said,

I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance. Job 42:6 NLT

While Job’s friends may have been more than a little rough on him, Job did have some precious lessons to learn, and yes, some precious revelations of God’s grace that could only be found through suffering. Even though God bragged on Job in the first chapter, He did not imply that Job had “arrived.” Job still had some things to learn about himself, and his need for God’s righteousness. Theologians have been trying to answer the question for ages, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” In fact, they’ve come up with a fancy name for it – theodicy. 1 The question why bad things happen to good people is actually hypothetical, because, there are no good people for bad things to happen to!

No one does good, not a single one. Romans 3:12 NLT

Job grew throughout the story, and in his suffering became more intimate with his Redeemer.

But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought! Job 19:25-27 NLT

God did not allow Job to suffer like a guinea pig so God could prove a point to Satan. Job had to suffer to learn obedience just like Jesus did.

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. Hebrews 5:8 NLT

The suffering and obedience led both Jesus and Job into intimacy with the Father. Again, I do not know why. Maybe you do and can comment below. But for now it is enough for me to know that if Jesus had to suffer too, there must be a good reason. My theory is simply that anything that was proven to Satan was not the main event. Job’s character growth and intimacy with God was the main event. The things Job endured were not just to put on some show for the devil to see. They were to bring Job closer to God, and to realize joys and victories, and yes and intimacy with God, that could not have been realized any other way.

  1. Theodicy covers a little more ground than just the question of why good people suffer. It deals with the questions of God’s goodness in the presence of evil.
  2. You may study this week’s SS lesson here.