When the patriarch Job lost his possessions, his family, and his health (Job 1-2), his three “friends” all assumed that God was punishing Job for his great sins. Eliphaz told Job, “Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed” (Job 4:7-9).
His “friend” Zophar thought Job was such a sinner, that he even went so far as to say, “Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth” (Job 11:6). While it is true that there are consequences for sin, in actuality, Job was suffering precisely because he was a righteous man. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8).
We live in a world that is under the curse of sin (Genesis 3), and illness is one of the consequences of Adam’s choice, a choice we also make (Romans 3:23). Nothing indicates, however, that God punishes anyone with a particular disease today. Job wanted to know why he was suffering, but even when God spoke to him out of the whirlwind, He never told Job why he was suffering. God is a God of love Who will help us cope with the difficulties of disease and suffering if we will turn to Him. Illness is not an indication of God’s punishment, and good fortune is not necessarily an indication of God’s approval. Those who suffer and those who care for them deserve our prayers and support.