“You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11 ESV). Everyone will suffer to some degree in this life. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Job’s story is meant to remind us that God has a purpose for our suffering.
This weeks quote comes from “Job,” a poem by John Piper that unfolds Job’s story. This is my favorite part of the poem: Job is having a conversation with his daughter Jemimah. Jemimah is the first child born to his wife since the loss of their other children. Job is explaining to Jemimah that God kindly showed him that he was not putting his hope in Him alone.
“Do you think God made you so sick?” She drew her breath, and swallowed hard. “I know you’d like to think that there’s a foe that hurts and God that heals. And that would not be wrong; but I have sat and pondered months in pain to see if that is true ‚Äî if misery is Satan’s work, and happiness is God’s. Jemimah, we must bless the Lord for all that’s good and bad.”
“But, Papa, God’s not mean or mad. He’s not our enemy. He’s kind and gentle, isn’t he?”
“Your mind is right, Jemimah, but it’s small. He’s gentle, kind, but that’s not all. I have some friends who thought they knew the mind of God, and that their view of tenderness exhausted God’s, and that severity and rods could only be explained with blame, to vindicate his holy name.”
“So you think it was God who made you sick?”
“I think God never laid aside the reins that lie against the neck of Satan, nor unfenced his pen to run at liberty, but only by the Lord’s decree.”
“So you think God was kind to make you sick,” Jemimah asked, “and take away your health and all your sons and friends, and daughters ‚Äî all the ones you loved?”
“Jemimah, what I think is this: The Lord has made me drink the cup of his severity that he might kindly show to me what I would be when only he remains in my calamity. Unkindly he has kindly shown that he was not my hope alone.”
- Piper, John. Job. Minneapolis: Desiring God Ministries, 2008. p. 103-104.