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Lessons on Suffering From the Book of Job

When I was a young girl growing up, I was in Job's Daughters. This is a Masonic youth organization for teen girls who are in a Masonic family. Through the book of Job, we learn religious symbolism that reflects on how to live an upright life.

What is Job's Daughters?

Some people think that the Masons, and therefore also Job's Daughters is some sort of a secret cult, but really, that couldn't be further from the truth. Although there is a degree of religious mysticism involved in the Story of Job and the lessons it contains, above all, Job teaches us to be steadfast in the face of our troubles.

Job’s Daughters International is a leadership organization for girls between the ages of 10 and 20. JDI has chapters called “Bethels” in the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and the Philippines. Job’s Daughters is a premier organization for young women that teaches the values of leadership, public speaking, charity, respect for parents and elders, and teamwork. Members participate in a variety of activities such as: bimonthly meetings, fundraisers, service projects, leadership workshops, theme parties, dances and so much more!

Through Job's Daughters, young girls learn how to be strong women who support each other. You can make lasting and impactful friendships, learn the value of helping others through community service projects, and deepen your spirituality through the religious ceremonies and symbolism of the order.

Once you attain 20 years of age, you become a "majority member" of Job's Daughters, which means as an adult you are still allowed to attend meetings. Only parents of the daughters, majority members, and members of Masonic family are allowed to attend the ceremonies of the Order, which center around recitations about lessons learned from the Book of Job.

By participating in Job's Daughters as a young girl and attaining majority as an adult, I have participated in extensive study of the mystical symbolism in the book of Job.

In addition to learning about the Book of Job, we also participated in many service projects each term, learned about the value of study and practice through learning the rituals to be performed each week, and the importance of hard work and dedication to your future.

Lessons to be Learned from Suffering

The Book of Job teaches us that there is much to be learned from our personal suffering, and that no matter how bad things get, there is always the possibility of coming out on the other side of things and receiving a blessing for persevering.

Job is also not afraid to cry out in pain, and to lament the suffering that befalls him. He is quite anxious and upset about the loss of everything good in his life - quite literally. He loses his posessions, his children, his wife, his home and his health. Still, in the face of all that, he remains true in his heart to God.

However, some people question why this rather allegorical story is in the bible at all. It is the story of a capricious God who allows a good man to be tormented for no reason.

According to the Cathedral of St. Phillip,

Why is this even in the Bible?
Well, I believe all this is in the Bible, because this is exactly what suffering is! Suffering would not be suffering if it had an easy solution. Job is a beautiful poem, a beautiful piece of literature, because it gets suffering right. The Book of Job probes the physical and psychological depths of suffering, and even the spiritual depths of suffering. Job is abandoned by his friends, and he is even chastised, for no reason, by God. Job is so innocent that even God rails against him. Wow.
There is a reason, an important reason, that the Book of Job is in the Bible: because the authentic community of faith, in this case the Hebrew community of faith, acknowledges that innocent suffering does exist. Job represents innocent suffering. That suffering is authentic, because it is not covered up, or solved, or answered, or tidied up, at the end. (Remember: the prose conclusion is not part of the poem! Poetry says that God does not guarantee happy endings; prose says God does.) Authentic, healthy communities of faith acknowledge pain and suffering.

In a world where many people are blamed for their own suffering, or told that their difficult circumstances are their fault, it is important to remember that at times innocent people do suffer. Not everyone has done something bad to bring suffering on themselves. Sometimes, bad things are allowed to happen to good people without a good reason. You can be blameless, and still have something terrible happen in your life.

It is important to hold this idea in mind if you think about passing judgement on someone else's life without knowing their story. People who suffer are too often judged for their plight, and society withholds help from them. This can be people who are mentally ill, homeless, poor, or struggling in some other way.

People don't necessarily do anything to bring suffering upon themselves. Job was tested because he was the most righteous man who could be found.

In Job 2:3-6 (NIV):

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

Poor Job endures every torment imaginable by the end of his story. He cries out to God at the indignaty of it all, and really doesn't receive a kind response either. This can make us question the image of God presented in this story, as being rather capricious instead of wholly good as we are tyically taught to believe.

Still, Job himself presents a good example for the rest of us in that he does not give up his faith even in the worst of circumstances. His wife and friends tell him to abandon and curse God for what has happened to him, but he never does. He still remains a good man, and is eventually rewarded for that.

In Job 42:12-15 (NIV):

12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

After his trials and despairs, Job is able to have a good life restored to him, with more even than he had before. This is a lesson that steadfastness and perseverance even through difficult times can lead to a better future. This is something that we can all put hope into in our own lives.

No matter how much suffering we are forced to endure, even if it pushes to the edge of death, we can still bounce back to live a happy and full life.

If you feel like you are enduring misery and suffering, it is important not to blame yourself for your plight - unless you have truly caused it - and to take heart in the fact that you can still remain a good person no matter what has happened to you.

Closing Thoughts

The Book of Job is somewhat a strange allegory in the Bible, which teaches us the value of keeping your faith even when bad things happen to us for no reason.

The God in this tale doesn't always treat people with fairness, which can cause us to look critically at what we believe about the transcendent nature of God in which many of us believe. Yet, however arbitrary God's reasons may be, people who are good and steadfast are seen to be rewarded in the end.


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