What can I tell my grandson who thinks that God was unfair to allow Satan to kill Job's children?

Email Received:

My 15-year-old grandson remembers the story of Job from Sunday school, even though his parents have not taught him anything biblical, and he only attended when I could take him. He said he doesn't believe everything in the Bible because it was so unfair of God to allow Satan to kill Job's children. I don't know what to tell him, as I rather feel that way myself! But I don't want him to keep basing his thoughts about the Bible in this way. Looking forward to your input, and thank you.

Tedís Response:

I am somewhat surprised that a Sunday school teacher was going through the book of Job with kids. Even most adults have a difficult time understanding why God allowed Satan to severely torment an upright man like Job, including having all of his children, servants and animals killed.

So I am not surprised that your grandson feels that it was unfair for God to allow Job's children to be killed. Because of this, I also can understand why he rejects what else the Bible has to say, thinking that the God of the Bible must be very mean, cruel and unfair. I'm guessing that he is not the only kid in that class who feels this way, which is unfortunate.

I don't think I read through the entire book of Job until I was in my late 20s and at least had developed some type of meaningful relationship with God. By that time, I had learned that we don't really understand much of what God does because His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours:

8"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. 9"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8,9)
After reading the Bible from cover to cover several times, I was able to "connect many dots" about God and understand much more about Him than I did as a kid. He is a very complex God who does not necessarily do things the way we think we would do them if we were in His place. I certainly would not expect the majority of kids to understand such things.

In the first chapter of Job, it says that he feared God and shunned evil. It does not say that about his ten children, though. It seems to indicate that they had frequent feasts where they would eat and drink wine with each other (Job 1:4,13,18). Then Job would sacrifice a burnt offering for them, thinking that they may have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.

Assuming this was true, it appears that Job's children did not have any type of meaningful relationship with God. A very frequent message throughout the Bible is that those who did not revere God, or who had known Him but had abandoned Him, were more likely to face negative consequences and even disasters. So it seems likely that this is why God allowed Job's children to die.

If I were talking to a teenager like your grandson about the account of Job, I don't know exactly what I would tell him. I feel that it takes most people years of studying the Bible and seeing how God really works in their own lives (that is, developing a personal relationship with Him), as well as observing how God works in the lives of others, to gain some understanding that He has a logical and rational reason for everything He does. He rarely is going to meet our expectations of how we think He should do things, so that is why faith and trust in God are vitally important.

I have email responses that I wrote to two other people asking me about the account of Job, God and Satan. Perhaps some of it will help give you some insight about what to tell your grandson, or possibly he might be interested in reading them himself:

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