The Bible Project was right, I want the book of Job to have tidy answers that thoroughly describe God’s relationship with human suffering. It doesn’t (so far).
In these chapters, we read as Job’s friend deduces that God is great, so all these horrible things must be the result of Job’s unconfessed sin. It is so much less messy if suffering is a result of someone’s own hand, right? This is a tempting road to go down. When there are unexplainable amounts of suffering happening, we want a clean, crisp, black and white answer that keeps God inside the boxes we’ve assigned him to.
God is marvelous, sovereign over even the weather, the poor have hope and injustice shuts her mouth (5:17-20), his friend insists. He rattles off reasons why God is good and this must somehow all be Job’s fault. But Job is experiencing great suffering, and God is still good. And still all those things! Sovereign, faithful, healer of wounds.
There is definitely a time to nudge someone towards repentance. When you see a friend stubbornly turned away from God, living with the consequences of it and turning up the volume on their prideful excuses, that is a good time for that speech.
How do you respond to other people’s suffering? Let’s not be friends who point blame and assume the worst. We are called to believe the best in people (1 Corinthians 13:7)!