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Mourning Has Broken (part 1 of 3)

The book of Job does not primarily present us with a theology of suffering as it does theology proper.

“I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (Job 42:1–2, NKJV). 

We all know that the first book of the Bible is Genesis. There we learn that the eternal, self-existent God spoke creation into being and declared it “good.” But with the disobedience of Adam, our first parents and all the created order fell under the dominion and devastation of sin. Tucked away in the aftermath of the fall is God’s promise of a Redeemer. These tenets set the stage for the history to follow that culminates with the appearance of that Redeemer in the fullness of time. 

Genesis, however, may not be the first book of the Bible written even though it is the first book in the canon. That distinction, some scholars believe, belongs to the book of Job. While Genesis provides us with the account of the fall, Job plunges us into the deep end of sin, senselessness, and suffering brought on by the fall. 

Job weaves together many themes that give us bearings for life in a fallen world. Foremost, we are shown the vast divide between the Creator and the creature. The book of Job does not primarily present us with a theology of suffering as it does theology proper, a study of God. God’s goodness is seen in His abundance of blessings, His wisdom in the hidden disposition of His providential working, and His sovereign might in the prominent name ascribed Him in the book (Shaddai). 

When God eventually speaks to Job, it is not to answer his questions but to display His glory and in so doing to put Job in his place. Job responds by acknowledging and embracing his position in respect to God: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:2–3). 

Against the backdrop of this Creator-creature distinction, suffering and misery take center stage as Job reels under the onslaught of adversity and crippling weight of affliction. Job gives voice to many questions and struggles we have as we encounter trials of various kinds in our own lives. 

There’s something else we learn, something endemic to life in a fallen world, and that is the prominence and pain of grief. When we meet loss, we grieve. In case of severe loss, our grief becomes like a black hole swallowing up life and light around us. The book of Job tells us something about grief and how to deal with it in its inevitability and invasiveness.


This article first appeared in the June 7, 2023 issue of

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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