THOSE WHO SUFFER ARE BEING PUNISHED BY GOD FOR THEIR WRONGDOINGS?
part of an ongoing discussion of “Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People”
A number of readers have written to suggest that “what goes around comes around.”
As in – “we reap what we sow”?
Yes . . . Is it possible that people suffer because they are being PUNISHED for something they did wrong?
That’s the advice of Job’s friends. That he should stop protesting his innocence and think long & hard about what he surely must have done wrong to DESERVE such chastisement.
But Job was innocent, wasn’t he?
From the very first sentence we are told that Job was “blameless & upright,” Yahweh’s most trusted servant.
So, Job was being TESTED, not punished, made to suffer simply because the Lord got into a little side bet with Satan?
Yes, although Job is never actually told that his faith is being tested. He just knows that he has been a righteous & pious servant and adamantly refuses to accept any notion that he is being punished for his sins.
He’s prosperous, well-respected, a pillar of society – and Satan thinks the ONLY reason Job worships the Lord is because . . .
. . . the Lord has blessed Job with material success. “You think so,” Yahweh bristles to Satan. “Well – watch this! We can reign terrible misfortune down upon Job & his family and he will NEVER renounce his faith in me.”
So the bet is on – and the Lord wins because Job in fact does NOT turn against him.
Yeah . . . Although Job certainly gets hot under the collar & up in Yahweh’s face demanding an explanation as to why good people suffer. At the end, of course, Yahweh is ANGRY at Job’s three “friends” for even suggesting that evil & suffering is the result of God punishing people for having done something wrong.
“For you have NOT spoken of me what is right,” Yahweh admonishes Eliphaz, Bildad, & Zophar, “as my servant Job has.”
In other words, Job’s three friends have been loudly proclaiming, erroneously, that Job must have done something wrong to deserve so much suffering, while all along Job has been insisting, correctly, that innocent people DO suffer in this world.
So, the Book of Job in the Hebrew bible explicitly REPUDIATES any notion of people being punished in this lifetime for their sins?
Which still leaves us with the thorny problem of explaining exactly WHY people – good & bad – suffer so terribly.
Because they are being tested?
Babies & sweet little ol’ ladies too? What kind of God would do that? A god who loves us?