Occasionally you may be confronted by instances of unexplainable tragedy. An image seared on my mind a few years ago is that of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy found washed up on the beach in Turkey, after his family tried to flee their war-torn country. This is the kind of world we live in. Maybe you remember that image. Maybe it’s another example of suffering that’s imprinted on your mind.
If you’re a Christian, how do you reconcile the tragedies of this broken world with belief in a sovereign and loving God? How do you face this question without resorting to either distraction or despair? Because the unpleasant reality is that if you live long enough, you will face suffering in your life.
Over the next six weeks, we’re going to explore the Book of Job. We’re introduced to Job at the very beginning as a man who was ‘blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil’. Yet afterwards he suffers incredible disasters. All his children die, he loses all his wealth, his health is taken away, and his reputation is left in tatters. Job wants to know why.
Job is a staggeringly honest book. It’s a book that acknowledges the questions that people ask, the doubts that they express in private, the tears that they shed. It’s not just an academic book. If you explore it deeply, it will touch you and trouble you.
As we look at what Job has to say, we’ll think about questions of suffering. But there’ll also be more, because this book cannot be easily condensed. There is no ‘one paragraph summary’. We’ll look at the character of God, the limitations of human wisdom, the benefits and pitfalls of counsel from friends, the fearful mystery of death and the promise of eternity. Along the way, we’ll read one of the masterpieces of ancient literature, partly prose and the rest poetry.
How can you get the best benefit from this series? For a start, come along each Sunday and listen prayerfully. Read the book in its entirety, as we won’t cover each chapter on Sundays. Use some resources to help your study. I recommend Christopher Ash, Francis Andersen, and Robert Fyall. Let God shape you through this great book.