Author Phillip Yancey states in Chapter 8 (“Arms Too Short to Box with God”) of Where is God When It Hurts? that suffering involves 2 basic issues: (1) cause-why I am suffering and who is responsible; and (2) response. He adds that our natural human inclination is to seek to understand the cause of our pain before formulating a response. Job sought that option, but God wouldn’t allow him to pursue it, instead directing Job’s attention to the more important issue- his response.
In his book Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner summarizes God’s response to Job:
“God doesn’t explain. He explodes. He asks Job who he thinks he is anyway. He says that to try to explain the kind of things Job wants explained would be like trying to explain Einstein to a little-neck clam. . . . God doesn’t reveal his grand design. He reveals himself.”
We, like Job, need to exercise responsibility in the one area we, and not God, control- our response. Only by focusing on our response to suffering, rather than its cause, can God reveal Himself to us.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”- 1 Peter 4:12-13