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Trials of this world prepare us for better day

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Your doctor tells you its cancer, or a heart defect requiring major surgery. You have a car accident where injuries occur. You fall and break bones, and you ask, “Why? What did I do to deserve this?”

In the Book of Job, Job himself is asking similar questions. He was a righteous man before God; he had committed no sins deserving the severe pains and afflictions attacking him, pains and afflictions so severe that he wished he were dead.

Friends came to comfort him but also questioned why he was so afflicted. Obviously God was punishing him for some past sins. He was just getting what he deserved.

Do we ever feel the same way, that we are getting what we deserve?

In Job’s case, we know that God has allowed Satan to afflict him with these problems.

Is that what God does with us? Are we being afflicted by Satan? Does God stand back and allow these things to happen?

Obviously, we cause some of our problems: an accident occurring from fast driving or a drunken or other distracted situation, death as the result of a drug overdose or any of a number of serious woes that we bring on ourselves.

But what about those problems that our actions did not cause? Hereditary problems, severe colds or flu, an accident where another was at fault - does God cause these to happen or allow Satan to attack us?

God answers Job in Chapters 38 through 41 by asking, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” God goes on to ask Job who formed the universe, who formed the mountains, animals and on and on.

Who are we to question how and why God works the way he does?

And Job responds in faith: “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (42:3).

While God does not answer all our questions, he makes one thing very clear: God will allow us to be afflicted in this world in order to strengthen us in our faith, preparing us to be ready for his world which is yet to come.

Job sees this at 19:25ff: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin, has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself and my eyes shall behold Him!”

Inspired by God, Job was seeing the coming of Jesus the Christ, who would reconcile us to his father through his death on the cross. We have sins and defects, yet they all were done away with when Jesus died on the cross.

The wages of sin is death. Jesus paid that penalty for us, dying that we may be forgiven, and he assures us that on the last day, we will see God face to face and live with him forever in his eternal kingdom.

In the meantime, we continue living in this world with all its problems. We understand that we cause some of our problems, Satan may cause others, but God allows these to happen according to his own purposes, which we cannot understand.

What we do understand is that through affliction, God is strengthening us and preparing us for the day when we stand before him and must answer the question, “Why should God let me into his eternal kingdom?”

In faith we answer, “Because Jesus died for my sins and believing in him, I have your assurance that you have forgiven my sins and given me permission to enter your kingdom of heaven.”

Meanwhile, we have the comfort of knowing it will not last forever, and that, in faith in Jesus Christ, God’s promise of eternal rest and comfort is coming, for some soon and for others later, but eventually for all who trust in Jesus as their lord and savior.

Richard H. Snyder is a retired Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod pastor.