Today we're going to look at the body of the text of Job. One day only. Before we do, here are a few things we saw in the first two chapters of Job:
No matter who you are, the world bites at times. Job's devotion to God did not spare him any agony, in fact it earned him the opportunity.
On the cosmic stage, Satan insinuated that people only worship the LORD for the good things He gives us. So, he suggested, cause even the most devoted believer to suffer and he will drop God like a greased pig on a hot summer day.
I hope we're also amazed by how much our trust and love matter to God. He cares. He staked the greatness of His Name on a believer's devotion to Him.
And Satan made Job's life a living hell; his goal is to destroy our spirits. But the God in whom we have life, the God who suffered in our place, the God who rose from the dead is a God of eternal hope, and joy, and great reward.
While pain and adversity result from sin and the devil and living in a broken world, Job's story highlights God's final say over everything.
So even though Satan leverages pain to turn us from the LORD, God and His mercy and comfort and hope are hidden in every hardship. So rather than blame God for the storm, we have reason to praise Him in the storm.
God proves Himself infinitely worthy of our worship regardless of circumstance.
Therefore, even as he agonized, Job trusted the LORD and praised Him.
Job 1:21 "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." 22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.
Even as he suffered like few of us ever have, he never doubted God's goodness.
Job 2:10 "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
So in Job 1-2, despite the accusations, our Lord is worthy of our love.
Yet Job is as human as we are. In the first two chapters, Job's devotion is beyond dispute. But as his suffering wore on, like in us, Job openly struggled. We see this as Job's friends come to comfort him.
Job 2:11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite; and they made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him.
But he was so disfigured they didn't recognize him. They wept and ripped their robes and sat with him for days, "for they saw that his pain was very great."
The first words out of his mouth were how he wished he were never born.
Then as Job struggles to make sense of his suffering, he doesn't hold back…
Job 7:11 Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
Job has several complaints, first, I've done nothing to deserve this.
Job 13:23 How many are my iniquities and sins? Make known to me my rebellion and my sin. 24 Why do You hide Your face and consider me Your enemy?
He doesn't know what he's done wrong, and God won't tell him. And while God is actually proud of him, rooting for him, he thinks God is against him.
We feel like that sometimes.
We want our life to be good. Obviously. But if life is not good, we look to God, like, hey, what's up? As if God is failing us. Unless of course, we know we did something really bad. But if if we haven't done anything too bad, God shouldn't allow anything too bad to happen to us.
This leads to Job's second complaint: God is unfair.
Since Job hasn't done anything to deserve something this awful, God is acting unjustly. And so he wants to have a sit down with God, as Judge, and present his case.
Job 30:25 Have I not wept for the one whose life is hard? Was not my soul grieved for the needy? 26 When I expected good, then evil came; when I waited for light, then darkness came. 27 I am seething within and cannot relax.
Job's case is that he is righteous, and he deserves better than this. This is pretty typical for us.
The underlying thought is we should get what we deserve. We want God to treat us justly.
But if the cross is any indication of the justice we deserve, we don't want true justice, what we deserve, we want what what we feel we deserve.
So this doesn't allow for true justice, nor does it allow for grace. We still have control! God isn't free to do what He wants if He must do what we deserve. BUT...
..... What if God wants to grow us through something that temporarily tests us? Should we only accept good from the LORD and not adversity?
..... What if He removes something from our lives to free us from sin or an idol? Is He not free to do this? The Lord gives, the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
..... What if God allows our greatest fears to come upon us for an unknown good? Is He no longer good? Does He disqualify Himself from our love?
..... What if He use it to bless us in a way we may never see in this life? Do we not trust Him to work His will through us? Must He tell us why it happened?
Questioning God's "fairness" is a big weapon of Satan's to turn us from God when we most need Him.
Job's friends believed God must treat us fairly, as we deserve. They believed God wouldn't allow anything horrible to happen to a good person.
Therefore, Job, must not be a good person. "Job, it's your fault; you must have sinned. Repent!"
This led to Job's third complaint: My friends are jerks.
Job 19:1 Then Job responded [to his friends], 2 How long will you torment me and crush me with words? 3 These ten times you have insulted me; you are not ashamed to wrong me. 4 Even if I have truly erred, my error lodges with me. 5 If indeed you vaunt yourselves against me and prove my disgrace to me…
Job's friends came to comfort him but they spent their whole time analyzing and theologizing the cause of Job's suffering. They were terrible comforters and presumptive theologians, misrepresenting God, blaming Job, heaping more anguish on an already suffering man.
Don't be like Job's friends! :)
God rebukes Job's friends. But God offered Job no explanation. So how do we make sense of it?
There are many recorded instances with different purposes behind suffering.
Suffering may be the result of the sin we choose and the consequences that follow.
Other times God disciplines us (Hebrews 12:5-12).
Sometimes it's to help us to love others better (2 Cor 1:3-7).
Sometimes it's to humble us (2 Cor 12:7-10).
Sometimes He brings it on to mature us (James 1).
Sometimes we're caught up in what God is doing in the life of another (Job's wife).
Many times our LORD never reveals His reasons to us to us. Like with Job.
Job didn't need to know, we may not either.
Maybe God is honored in our not-knowing, not figuring it out, but simply trusting God to love us, be with us, and comfort us as we hurt.
Maybe God is profoundly honored when we praise Him without knowing why He allows this.
Somebody wrote something like the final idol to die in the book of Job is the need for answers. The need to know why. The need to keep in control.
We all fight like mad to be in control, to avoid feeling helpless.
But beyond pain and sorrow, suffering brings about a dreaded sense of helplessness. So, what if God uses suffering at times to free us, not from hurting but from exerting control.
What if there is a wonderful freedom realizing in our marriage, with our kids, with COVID, work, our grief, our suffering that you're not in control! You can't fix it. You don't know why it's happening. In a sense, Job highlights God's greatness and our helplessness, yet our great God loves us and does His most wonderful work in our helplessness.
So as always, we turn our thoughts and hope to Jesus, the suffering servant,
Isaiah 53:4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.
As we look to Jesus we see a genuinely benevolent God seeking the lost, rescuing the helpless, giving His very life for sinners. Not just for Job and the spiritual all-stars, but for those who never proved themselves faithful to God. A thief on the cross. A good friend who denied Him three times in one night.
At some point, we all hurt and it's never easy. But beyond everything that Job shows us, Jesus suffered and died for your sins; He rose from the dead and he promises that you too will be raised to new life with Him. We know there's more to life than what we see. Your worst day is not our last. You're never alone.
We may be afflicted in every way, but we're not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but never forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
May these be words of life, truths we count on. No matter what happens.