The chances are good that many of us have felt such agony at times that we have spoken similar words, or at least asked in our hearts: “Is there no end to this suffering of mine? Why, LORD?” And even if you may have been spared such spiritual and emotional anguish, some loved ones of yours probably have not been. Even now, today, there may be a few in our assembly who are experiencing an agony of body or of spirit beyond anything we can imagine. He or she may be sitting near us in this church, feeling sheer darkness inside, and emptiness, and imagining that he or she is utterly abandoned by God. Or the suffering may be so intense that it fills the soul, leaving nothing to think about but dark pain. And although near them in space-time, we may not even glimpse the intensity and depth of their suffering.
Consider a few questions: Why must a human being suffer such agony of spirit? What causes one to feel alone, isolated, abandoned by friends, and by God? Why do bad things happen to anyone, even to good people? Why sickness, pain, and death? What can a person do to escape from suffering? Are there kinds of suffering from which one cannot escape, and it is futile to try? Does God cause human beings to suffer? If so, why? Does God allow us to suffer? Whatever the causes of bodily, mental, and spiritual anguish, what is the best that a person can do with his or her suffering? Can one derive good from suffering, or is it necessarily a waste of human spirit, the destruction of an otherwise productive and good life? Does the reality and enormity of human suffering suggest that God is indifferent to our suffering? In a word, does God care?
These questions are heavy, and may be merely the tip of the iceberg of deeper and more heart-wrenching questions. Sooner or later, many of us must wrestle with such questions, because we are in agony, or a loved one is.
Job is not alone. On the contrary, he speaks on behalf of all. So does Jesus: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”