The book of Job in the Bible is probably one of the most challenging books to religion and philosophies about God.
Basically, Job loses it all and his three friends come round to accuse him of sinning. The basic philosophy goes: “Here’s how the system works. You do good things and good things will happen to you and God will bless you; you do bad things and bad things will happen to you and God will curse you.”
To validate their philosophy, they spend pages upon pages trying to get Job to confess what he did wrong but Job has nothing to confess. He didn’t do anything wrong. For some reason God has allowed this thing to happen to him, and God is not forthcoming with an answer.
And God never actually provides an answer. In the end of the Book God shows up and says something to the effect of “I am God, you are man, and what can you do about it?” Job’s answer is eventually something like “You’re right; I understand.” God doesn’t answer the question, He just reminds about his sovereignty – and His goodness, too.
There’s a clear challenge to the philosophy – you cannot box God. You can’t figure Him out. He is not subject to religious formula. But He is good – you can rely on that.
God then blesses Job with far more than he ever had. See, God does eventually pull through and bless – but He’s going to do it when He decides it should be done and how He decides too. He is more interested in our character and our faith than anything else.
Faith says “God is good” even when trouble comes, and it also admits that trouble will come. When it comes, will we still believe God is good? He is good, that’s a statement of fact. But will we continue to believe that He will pull through? And that our present suffering will bring great fruit?
The Bible is full of people who suffer but then, finally, receive their reward. Even Jesus went to his death to be raised to life. God is good, and He always pulls through for us (even through death) – often just not in the way we would like Him to. But when he does, His way always bears far greater fruit than we could ever have imagined or that our way could ever have done.