I recently listened to a Sermon on Job 1 by Tim Keller called “Questions of Suffering”. It is more than worth the listen. Keller points out that how we endure suffering ultimately exposes the motives behind our worship and obedience. As Keller puts it, “Satan puts his finger on the pulse of the human problem…”
This excerpt from The Bible Knowledge Commentary addresses the question of suffering from the same angle:
“The Lord spoke of Job by the honorable title My servant and referred to him as a supreme example of piety: There is no one on earth like him. Satan had and has dominion over much of the world, but God pointed out that Satan could not dominate Job!
1:9-12. Satan responded by attacking Job’s motives: Does Job fear God for nothing? “For nothing” (rendered “without any reason”) Because Satan could not deny God’s assessment of Job’s godliness, he questioned why Job was pious. The accuser suggested that Job was serving God not out of love but only because of what he got from God in return. If Job’s rewards were removed, out would go his reverence.
Satan’s subtle suggestion that worship is basically selfish hits at the heart of man’s relationship to God. The Book of Job does more than raise the question of the suffering of the righteous. It also, through Satan’s words, deals with the motives for godly living. Will anyone serve the LORD if he enjoys no personal gain from it? Is worship a coin that buys a heavenly reward? Is piety part of a contract by which to gain wealth and ward off trouble?
Satan suggested that if God removed His protecting hedge around Job and removed everything he owned, Job would curse God. Job, Satan claimed, would no longer insert his coins of worship if nothing came out of the machine. Job, in other words, was worshiping for selfish reasons. This accusation also attacked the integrity of God, for it suggested that the only way He can get people to worship Him is to promise them wealth. Perhaps this indictment against His character is one of the reasons God let Satan buffet Job. Surely God knew Job’s heart, but He used Job as a demonstration to silence Satan. In addition, God wanted to deepen Job’s spiritual insight.”