In the ongoing discussion between Job and his friends, Job maintained his innocence with frustration and fervor, responding to the increasingly virulent attacks made against his life and character by his friends with precision and logic. He had yet to figure out the full impact of his circumstances and the greater lesson they implied; however, he had grown to appreciate a perspective previously unconsidered—that suffering itself does not imply sinfulness. Reflecting upon his own situation allowed him to identify other similar situations to bring to his friends’ attention in support of his cause. Thus, answering Bildad’s claims in his previous speech, Job illustrated how often evil goes unpunished in the world and how often the innocent suffer.
It remains a common complaint among some that God does not step in to stop suffering and stop evil. (Atheists make it regularly despite the fact that they cannot define the absolute moral necessity of doing so without admitting the existence of absolute morality and therefore the existence of God.) But even among believers, the desire for more immediate justice in this world is a regular wish. It proved difficult then and remains difficult now to see thieves manipulate the system for their personal benefit, take food out of the mouths of the hungry, and assault the honest out of pure selfishness. The unrighteous create an environment of distrust and danger everywhere they go at the expense of the trustworthy and honest. They care not for the consequences of their behavior nor for the devastation they leave in their path (Job 24:1-17). It is therefore natural to desire justice (Job 24:18-21). However, all men ultimately die and will be judged (Job 24:22-25; Heb. 9:27); therefore, justice will be served, but not necessarily in this life. Both good and evil men die; therefore, “no man is sure of life” (Job 24:22).
We like to judge everything that happens in very immediate terms. If justice is not served in the moment, we believe it is unfair. If someone dies at a young age, we consider it unfair. If life does not meet our expectations, we think it is unfair. But what are we comparing this against? This was the problem for Job’s friends. They failed to consider all the evidence, limiting their examples to instances that fit their presumptions, and therefore had drawn an unwarranted conclusion. They remained so focused on the material world that they used it as the basis for their judgment. God does not do this, and neither should we. We do not know how long we have upon this earth, but we do know that we will be judged when it ends based upon how we live now. Therefore, instead of trying to call every horrendous action upon this earth the judgment of God, whether natural disasters, terrorism, accident, or disease, let us learn from Job and accept that there will be unfairness in this life of all kinds but there will always be justice in eternity. This should change our outlook, give us greater peace, and motivate us toward righteousness each and every day.