Suffering: If We Knew What God Knows

William Blake engraving on the book of Job

One of the interesting lessons from reading the accounts of Joseph (Genesis 37-50) and Job in scripture come from understanding our perspective vs theirs. We are being told the story in retrospect. As the reader we are given the view point of God in his omniscience. But neither of those characters understand what is going on during the long night of suffering. They are in the dark on their most distressing questions. How long will this last? Why is this happening to me? This is not what I expected, what is God doing? Where is God?

At the conclusion they will have answers to their questions, even if they are not the answers they wanted. But they will NOT have them in the middle. They will not know during the trial what we know as readers. One of the lessons for us is to apply this to our own circumstances. In the multiplied suffering of our perplexity, we may not know “Why.” But we may know and trust the God who does know why. And his purposes are gracious towards his children. We may trust the wisdom of the one that made all things. We may rest in the power of the one who directs all things. And we may trust the heart of the one who sent his son to die for us. 

There is an important and comforting statement that has helped me in the midst of suffering. I first heard it from Tim Keller, who may have heard it from someone else. “If we knew what God knows, we would choose what God chose. Every time. ” 

James 5:10-11 “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

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