The question of why God permits evil is not a new one; it has been asked by thinking men and women throughout the ages. Thousands of years ago a faithful servant of God named Job became personally concerned with discovering the meaning of his own suffering. The record of this is found in a book of the Bible which bears Job’s name. The first verse of this book informs us that Job was an upright man who feared God and shunned sin.
Job was a prosperous man, abundantly blessed by the Lord along material lines. “His substance … was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.” (ch. 1, vs. 3) Job was also blessed with a large family, and he desired that they too should be blessed by the Lord. Job prayed for his family, and offered sacrifice, because “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” (vss. 4,5)
But experiences were ahead for Job for which he was not wholly prepared. Satan, the great adversary of God and men, charged that this servant of the Lord was loyal to God only because of the abundance with which the Lord had blessed him. In answer to this charge God permitted Satan to inflict calamities upon Job to test his fidelity. God had no doubt about the outcome, and in His wisdom He knew that the temporary suffering he permitted would in the end prove to be a great blessing to Job.
Job did experience great trouble. “There was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, and there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, and behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead, and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.”—Job 1:13-19