There Is No Paradise Here
He was quite successful at one time, but things went wrong. He suffered severe financial reverses through no fault of his own, essentially losing everything he owned. Then calamity struck his family; an accident claimed the lives of all of his children. As if that were not enough, he began to suffer his own serious health problems. Even his marriage was a disappointment since his wife did not share his faith in God.
I have described the situation of Job, a man whose righteousness was attested by God (Job 1-2). Three of Job’s friends came to console him in his suffering, but their consolation was less than satisfying. They were convinced that Job was suffering because of some terrible personal sin(s) he had committed. If Job would only "return to God," everything would be alright; God would restore Job’s wealth and health.
Job’s friends may have anticipated the average modern televangelist. Today Job would be advised that there was really no reason that he should suffer…financial abundance and personal victory is what God wills for him. One gets the impression listening to some TV preachers that Christians should be enjoying a paradisiacal life while here on earth. Good health and material prosperity are blessings which any believer in God should and can expect! Physical suffering only afflicts the wicked and the faithless!
There is truth to the statement that sin brings suffering (Proverbs 10:29), but not all suffering can be explained in this fashion. The epilogue of the book of Job confirms that Job’s friends were wrong. Job was not suffering because of his personal sin. The thrust of the book of Job is that personal righteousness is no guarantee of the absence of problems in life, i.e., sometimes bad things DO happen to good people. Many other servants of God likewise had more than their share of difficulties in life.
There was a paradise on this earth at one time, but sin destroyed that perfect life (Genesis 1-3). Tornados, floods, sickness, even death – all of these things are now a part of this world. There is no divine guarantee that we will escape all of the possible tragedies of life.
Are we then hopeless, destined simply to be punished by the vagaries of this world? Absolutely not! There is, however, the distinct danger that we can build a false hope about this world, that somehow we can enjoy a perfect life here, free from sickness, poverty or any other calamity.
The Scriptures reveal that we are just pilgrims here, that our real hope is eternal life, being in the presence and glory of our God forever and ever (1 Peter 2:11-12; Titus 1:2; 2 Peter 1:3-4). It is that living hope that enables us to cope with the difficulties of this life. We must lift our eyes beyond the horizon of this temporal life and focus our gaze on the glory which is available on the other side!