People are quick to tell you that life is not fair. It is an axiom that comes quick to the lips just due to hearing it so often—so quickly that we often do not think about what we are saying. It is an explanation of sorts—and sometimes a justification. When trials and hardships come our way and frustration sets in, we acknowledge to ourselves and others this assumed truth that life is not fair. However, since God is the Author of life and is completely just, then such a statement practically indicts the character of God. We are saying, in essence, that God is not fair to create us and leave us subject to circumstances that are sometimes painful and even traumatic.
Indeed, this was the conundrum facing Job as he mulled over his own circumstances and defended himself against the accusations of his friends. He knew that he had done nothing wrong, and yet he faced tremendous hardship. His friends insisted that this could not be because God is always just. However, these friends wrongly assumed that God’s justice—fairness—would prohibit suffering and hardship except as punishment for sin. Confusion reigned over both Job and his friends because they had trouble reconciling the justice of God with the reality of the suffering of the innocent. In fact, the failure to appreciate the answer to their problem lies at the heart of the “problem of evil” argument thrust forward by atheists.
However, Job’s own words provide the key to the resolution of these issues. Despite his complaint and his desire to get an explanation from God, he yet affirmed his faith, saying, “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Even Job Himself did not appreciate these words fully. God knows everything about us, and His character demands that He be just. Therefore, the difficulties we face refine us like gold, making us stronger and more valuable for the heat we have endured, and in no way serve as a testimony to our spiritual status. To appreciate the justness of God, we must also consider His eternality. Attempting to judge His fairness based on the circumstances at any one moment fails to consider the divine perspective, and this was where Job’s friends failed miserably.
The entire scenario portrayed in this book is essential to make this simple point clear, and it exists for a very specific reason. When Jesus came, He was allowed to suffer unjustly so He could be a sacrifice for those whose sins required justice (1 Pet. 3:18). The pain and the sorrow He bore on Calvary’s tree He did not deserve (Isa. 53:1-12), yet God allowed it because of His justice—His determination to do what was right for His creation while still doing what was right in regard to sin. However, does this mean that the Father acted unfairly toward His own Son? Not at all. This is the point of the resurrection (Acts 2:22-36). Jesus received what He deserved—honor and glory—but suffering became the means. Therefore, when we are tested in life, we must persevere, knowing that God will be more than fair. We may not see relief in this life, but we will enjoy rest in the next (2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rom. 8:18-39).