Bildad’s Blunder – Good People Never Suffer
The book of Job contains one of the most amazing and frustrating accounts in all of Scripture. The most righteous man endures the most incredible amount of suffering. Like Job’s friends, we find what happens to Job hard to process. We want to believe that if, like Job, just do the right thing and live righteously that all will go well. But that is not always the case as you have probably found and so did Job.
In Job chapter 8, Bildad summarises a commonly held viewpoint that makes much sense from a human point of view but could not be more wrong from God’s point of view. “Bildad’s blunder” is assuming that the righteous will always prosper in this life. Because Job has lost so much, Bildad accuses him of sin. He thinks that if God has allowed such bad things to happen to Job, then of course Job must have some kind of sin in his life. Otherwise, God is an unjust God and that is unthinkable.
Such syllogistic thinking allows for only two outcomes. The righteous always prosper and the wicked always suffer. There are many places in the Bible, such as Proverbs, that teach that following God leads to blessing and rebelling against God leads to punishment, but there also many exceptions to this rule (e.g. Job).
Those who are wise attempt to learn all that God has to say on a subject, not just the parts they prefer. And so we must understand that, just as it is generally true that God blesses the righteous and punishes the wicked, it is also sometimes true that God allows the righteous to suffer not as a means of punishment but for other reasons. And that is what is happening to Job. He is suffering not for any wrong he has done, but for the glory and honour of God.
So, we must beware of thinking too simplistically about suffering. Much suffering is related to sin, but not all suffering is related to our own personal sin. Sometimes, there are other reasons why God allows suffering. That is why James tells us that when we face many different trials, we need to ask for wisdom to know what God is trying to teach us and why He has allowed these things to happen (see James 1:1-5).
Don’t make the same mistake that Bildad made and assume all suffering is a result of unrighteous living. Sometimes there are other things going on that are part of God’s bigger plan.