Everywhere we look lately, it seems that suffering and pain are on the rise. Maybe it is age related , culture related, government related or simply what God has decreed for us for our growth in grace. The Bible tells us that though suffering always comes, it is never an excuse for sin. Sin is not allowed, no matter what else is going on around us. Job’s suffering wasn’t related to anything he had done, he was being tested by God. The Bible tells us that our suffering is also a test from God, and like Job we are expected not to sin.
In the fourteenth chapter of Job’s story, in one of Job’s pleas to God for deliverance, he said this,
Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come. You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands (13-15).
What Job is asking for is relief from his suffering. Please, since you don’t seem to be interested in removing the suffering from me, God, please take me away from all the suffering. Hide me in death, conceal me from your wrath. I’m miserable; please take me out of this situation. I know you won’t forget me because I am yours and you won’t forget your creation.”
Then Job quickly adds that he doesn’t want to be forgotten. If you kill me, you won’t forget me, will you? I’ll wait for you, because godly people wait for God. The psalmist says the same kind of thing, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. (Psa 130:5-6). So Job waits for God’s deliverance. Trusting, believing, living in faith.
What Job says next is really key for those who suffer: “For then you would number my steps; you would not keep watch over my sin; my transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and you would cover over my iniquity” (14:16, 17 ).
“But,”you say, “doesn’t our suffering often come because of our sin? Don’t we mess up, make mistakes, errors in judgment? Aren’t we just a little bit stupid, thick, slow, crazy?” This comment from Job is priceless. He is trusting God, not to watch his every footstep like a prison guard. He is trusting God to view him like a father watches his sweet little child. God is not watching in judgment, he’s watching in love and devotion. Job knows that God wants to praise us, not chastise us. And this becomes clear when we notice the second part of the verses: “You would not keep watch over my sins; my transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and you would cover my iniquity.” Seal my sin up in a bag and throw it into the deepest sea. Cover over my sins, just as if I’d never committed them.
Again, the Psalmist chimes in, “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. (Psa 130:3-4).
God is not a huge ogre in the sky, looking to punish everyone for every little thing we do wrong. God is a gracious God, loving and kind. He pours mercies out to us every day, indeed his mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23). His love covers a multitude of our sins (1 Pet. 4:8). He does this for us, to us and in us because he loves us. He wants to be our God and for us to be his people. And this reminds us that we need to confess our sins.