Question: Why did Job suffer? Answer: Fear and pride. Moral of the story? Fear and pride always cause us problems, so we are better off without them!
How do we know that Job had fear? He said so himself. After disaster struck and he had lost most of his wealth (all except his home and house servants), all his children, and his health, he said, “The thing I feared has befallen me, and what I dreaded is coming upon me. I was not at ease, neither was I quiet, and I did not rest, yet trouble came.” (Job 3:24-25 The Complete Jewish Bible / Job 3:25-26 in any English version).
What did he fear? He feared that his children had sinned and cursed God and that they would suffer the consequences, so he made sacrifices to try to stop the consequences from happening. How do we know that? He said so himself. While his children were still sleeping off the hangovers from their wild parties, he would get up early in the morning to make sacrifices for their possible sin, saying, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” … Then disaster struck.
So, Job’s 3 friends come to console him, and for many days a long dialogue between them ensues. At some stage during their dialogue, another, younger friend arrives. He witnesses this dialogue but doesn’t say anything. Eventually Job and his 3 friends run out of words, accusations and excuses. Then Elihu, the younger friend, speaks. And this is how we know that Job was prideful …
Job 32:1-3 “So these 3 men ceased answering Job because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then the anger of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his 3 friends his anger was aroused, because they had found no answer, and yet they condemned Job.”
After Elihu finished speaking, God also pointed out Job’s pride when He began speaking. This is how His speech went: Job 38:1-4 “Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm, ‘Who is this, darkening My plans with his ignorant words? Stand up like a man and brace yourself. I will ask questions; and you, give the answers. Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you know so much?’ “… And He said a whole lot more … He spoke for 4 chapters! …
But don’t lose hope! The story has a good ending! After God finishes addressing Job, this is Job’s reply: Job 42:2- 6 “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Your’s can be thwarted … Yes, I spoke, without understanding, of wonders far beyond me which I didn’t know … I had heard about You with my ears, but now my eye sees You. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job repents for making false accusations about God. And after that God restores him. He again had 7 sons and 3 daughters (as he had had before) and his possessions were restored to him … twice as much! At the end of the story … “The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning …” (Job 42:12a).
So, how do you avoid the self-inflicted suffering caused by fear and pride? Repent! God has made it so easy for us. He never intended for us to suffer! We know this because the moment Job repented, God began to restore him. God is in the business of forgiveness and restoration. We just need to come to a place of admission (confession) and repentance (making every effort to make the necessary changes) in order to open the door for Him to come in and restore us. In this way we can learn from Job’s mistakes and suffering and avoid experiencing the same suffering for ourselves.