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Job's Loss, Job's Gain - Our Suffering, Our Pain

  • Ritchie Johnson Crosswalk Contributor
  • Updated Aug 04, 2020
Job's Loss, Job's Gain - Our Suffering, Our Pain

Job lost his possessions, his family, his health, and even his will to live (Job 1–3). His friends came to him in the midst of tragedy. The story raises an important question: How is suffering an opportunity for me to bless others?

When Job’s Friends First Arrive: Job 2:11-13

Observation: Mark the Obvious

Underline the occurrences of Job’s friends in the following verses.

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him. 12When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. 13Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great. (Job 2:11–13 NASB)

Interpretation: Use Context to Establish Meaning

Asking questions like who, what, when, where, why, and how help you read with purpose and observe important details.

  1. Why did Job’s friends come to be with him?
  2. What did they do when they saw him from a distance?
  3. How long did they sit with him without speaking?
  4. Why did they wait so long to speak to him?

Application: Ask Questions to Move from Knowledge to Practice

  1. What did you learn from Job’s friends that will help you respond to hurting people?
  2. Who do you know that is suffering? What situations are they facing?

Job’s friends demonstrated their love for him by trying to help him understand his suffering. But often, we quote a Bible verse or say something funny, as if it could take away the pain. It’s certainly not wrong to speak, but we need to be careful. Job’s friends were careless, not careful.

Job’s Friends’ Unsolicited Advice: Job 8 Forward

Observation: Mark Key, Repeated Words

Read the following verses in Job. Circle the words “if,” “then” and “surely” to find cause and effect statements.

Bildad: “If you would seek God and implore the compassion of the Almighty, 6 If you are pure and upright, surely now He would rouse Himself for you and restore your righteous estate. (Job 8:1, 5–6 NASB)

Zophar: “If you would direct your heart right And spread out your hand to Him, 14If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, And do not let wickedness dwell in your tents; 15“Then, indeed, you could lift up your face without moral defect, And you would be steadfast and not fear. (Job 11:1, 13–15 NASB)

Eliphaz: “If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored; If you remove unrighteousness far from your tent, 24And place your gold in the dust, And the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks, 25Then the Almighty will be your gold and choice silver to you. (Job 22:1, 23–25 NASB)

Interpretation: Use Context to Establish Meaning

  1. What corrections did Job’s friends offer? (They typically follow the word “if.”)
  2. How did they believe God would respond if Job did these things?
  3. Why did Job’s friends think he was experiencing evil and pain?
  4. What does this tell you about their understanding of God?

Application: Ask Questions to Put Truth into Practice

  1. Based on our study, how should you approach people in pain?
  2. When you encounter evil and suffering, what is the cause? God, the accuser, your wrongdoings, none or all of the above?

Job’s friends thought he was suffering because of his own sin, but they were wrong. God called Job “blameless and upright” (Job 1:8 NASB). In your quest to know how evil can exist in a world ruled by a perfect, sovereign God, you can mark one thing off your list. Not all experiences with evil and suffering are caused by personal sin. God does not operate solely on terms of an “eye for an eye” (Exod 21:23–25).

To learn more about Precept Ministries’ Inductive Bible Study Method or be a part of a Precept Bible study workshop, go to

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Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Logos Bible Software. Each issue of Bible Study Magazine provides tools and methods for Bible study as well as insights from people like John Piper, Beth Moore, Mark Driscoll, Kay Arthur, Randy Alcorn, John MacArthur, Barry Black, and more. More information is available at Originally published in print: Copyright Bible Study Magazine (Sept–Oct 2009): pg. 46.

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