lent wk1 – Job

Job

Leesh and I have just finished reading Job together.  Well Leesh read it and I listen diligently.

With all that is going on in the world and around us in our lives with family, close friends and people we know. I guess we wanted to find some answers or some new thought processes in respect to getting through hardship, and why do good people suffer. As at times I feel like I don’t have the answers needed to help myself let alone those around me. I guess I was looking for a guide to suffering.

Why do good people suffer is such a demanding topic to understand. It’s a bit like the Trinity. You think you have the answer then it’s gone. And your back at square one. Bit like a rubix cube. Which I have never solved.

But it is such a topic that is so relevant to our lives. Not just as Christians but as brothers and sisters. Mums and Dads. Neighbours. A topic that is worth exploring to not just help us through our own suffering but to help those who are suffering around you. I hope i do it justice today.

The first thing you read in Job is that Job was a righteous man, he was blameless and upright; he feared God Job 1:3 NIV – He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.  a man who had everything, wealth, large family happiness and joy.

We then get into a conversation between God and Satan where Satan has just turned up after wondering the earth. The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” I included this scripture to highlight the devil is wondering this earth. 1 Peter 5:8, Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

God seems to know this and effectively offers up Job to be tested .1:8 “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

The devil replies that Job is only righteous because God has provided so much prosperity to him. Satan tells God, take it all away and then he’ll see Job curse God.  The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Satan leaves the presence of the Lord. Next we read Job loses all his wealth and children in one day. His livestock stolen and field burned. And his children killed in a freak wind storm.

However  jobs reaction is credible. He was in anguish  And grieving but maintained his righteousness acknowledging aloud.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.

Job acknowledges here that all he had were gifts form God.

 The devil and God have a second conversation. God again offering Job to be tested by the devil. Stating, Job 2:3- he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” The devil replied, Job 2:4-5 NIV – 4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.

And job’s physical suffering begun. It is written even his wife at this time on seeing him, said, Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!  

This started the common trend in Job’s story that everyone around him believed these things were  happening to him because he had sinned and was being punished by a God. However Job maintained his innocence and his integrity replying back to his wife, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

And here is out first clue in suffering. Maintaining our integrity.

Job however continues to suffer Physically and we see his spiritually now be tested over the coming weeks oh his life.

This now provides us with an insight to how suffering is used by the devil to devour your integrity. First the devil attacked Job Emotionally /mentally. Causing job to loose all his hard earned wealth including with losing his ten children. Then Physically with the sores and illness and finally spiritually his battle with God and questions of why me, attacking his integrity.

Things we all go through.

I couldn’t help but to immediately compare this to Jesus and his testing in the desert to see if it relates. Matthew 4:2-10

The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Emotional test.

4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you, And they will lift you up in their hands, 9 So that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ Physical test

7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Spiritual test

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.

Emotional test word of God.

Physical test don’t put God to the test God

Spiritual test – worship and serve. Acceptance.

Mathew Henry a 16th century  English minister is quoted as saying,  We live a life suffering afflictions where No prosperity, worldly comforts, or man made medicines can secure us. But through Integrity (the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles) and uprightness ( the state of being in a vertical position)

We are able to“ steady ourselves , and slowly manage to achieve a state of relative uprightness”

Through this, we are provided a way to navigate suffering. A way through the darkness that can cover and conceal us from hope.

So far we can identify that Job in his Integrity and uprightness was able to stay on the narrow path and maintain his faith. I believe uprightness is key to our perseverance. As we are to stand upright in our faith during suffering.i9

Think of hope as your light. As Christ is your hope. Wether you admit you have hope or not.

Feel the chair your sitting today. The solidness of it. The hardness, the reality of it. That also resembles the hope Christ provides you. And the hope you live with each day wether you care too admit it or not. Your here aren’t you!

Christ is a real and alive today. He is as real as the wooden chair you are sitting. Is your faith as real as that chair? I wonder what you all answer to that? But that is a conversation and ears only for your God, Jesus Christ. Our Saviour and our strength.

The most used words I pray are Lord give me the strength, patience and perseverance to get through this day. And I pray these on majority suffering free days. How much more should we pray it when we are going through suffering.

Because as Job’s book tells us and I’m sure, we all have living experiences of it too. Good people will suffer. Christy tells us in John 16:33 NIV

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

One thing in Job that stood out to me as I read it, was the questioning and demanding of answers of Job to God, his spiritual battle.

Job was forthright and openly honest to God.

Romans 8:35-39 NI

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? [36] As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” [37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. [38] For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, [39] neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In frustration, Job jumped to the false conclusion that God was out to get him. Wrong assumptions lead to wrong conclusions.

Job 3:24-26 NIV

For sighing has become my daily food; my groans pour out like water. [25] What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. [26] I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

I wonder what  you what you think Of Job’s suffering.. Jobs suffering was not a punishment. We know that. What about Christ’s suffering on the cross was it a punishment.

No Christ on the cross was a sacrifice.

But what was the sacrifice for in, both Job and Christ in their suffering. It was for Gods Glory. Therefore can I now say that Job’s suffering was a sacrifice to show how strong and great Faith is. How it can get you through suffering and defeat the enemy.

Now it gets personal.

Likewise your suffering what is it for. You are righteous before God thanks to Jesus Christ.

I wonder if I stand here and say your suffering allows the Glory of God to be displayed. I wonder if you agree? It’s a very challenging concept. One were you need a humble mindset to begin to grasp it.

We are not meant to live a life for self. Genesis 2:15, The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

We are made to live a life for a God. To show his compassion. His kindness, his love, his wisdom. To me Gods compassion and his love for us is best displayed through suffering. A loving mother caring for a sick child. A husband still lovingly looking after his wife who has lost her memory. A husband and wife fatigued and battling against the world. Yet say I love you each  night before bed, hoping for a better tomorrow.

And how are you the sufferer, meant to live a life in Glory to God while battling a close family members death, living with a terminal illness, rising each day with depression and no self worth.

Sticking with Job I’ll use his battle to highlight the key factor in his suffering. Job had constant conversation with God. He engaged in communion with God, being the exchanging and sharing of thoughts and feelings with God, which funny enough is the definition of communion.

Job from the onset was Honest and direct with God. From his prosperous life to and through his hardship and tormented life.

His conversations with God were relevant to his circumstances and surrounded finding a hope for a  better suffering, free tomorrow. All be it, Job did wish that he had never been born and to die. However, this simplified is job just seeking peace. A peace that Job knew only God could provide him.

His wife, his three friends had opinions on what he should do and why he was suffering. Just like I’m sure all those around you have opinions and thoughts on what you should be doing in your life sufferings.

But Job maintained his focus on God, Job listened to his friends however it seems, The only person who listened to Job was God. By Job disregarding the outside negativity and with his questioning God why and how come. He was able to keep his faith active. Sure he was at times upset, pleading and demanding answers from God. Which I do not blame him for, and I, as I’m sure most of you would have also. The take home here is his faith was not left at the front door of suffering. He carried, dragged it and push it all the way through with him.

How else is our wisdom meant to grow. How else can we find the ability to understand.

 A friend of yours in their first ever car, calls you up with a flat tyre problem. You say just change it and hang up. Is their wisdom in that comment. No. The problem is quite obvious to the sufferer. But if you act with action, wether visiting the friend and helping him change it or talking him through the steps on the phone. You have imparted wisdom onto him simply through your attitude.

You see, wether we like to admit it or not, we have control of our attitude. Attitude is a choice. Even when we are cranky. We always have a choice. Of how to act. It’s confronting. But blessed are the humble.

Our attitude is to be like Job’s attitude. We are to go to God with our troubles and thoughts. As Christians we are by nature living a life in accordance to gods will not our own. We try to Grey this area to suit or lifestyles and desires. With leads us to temptation and seeking worldly comforts.  Distancing ourselves further from Gods peace being lead away instead by resentment, bitterness and anger, choosing to mistakenly see these as our friends to help us deal with suffering and hardships

10:1 Job began to wallow in self-pity. When we face times baffling affliction, confused as to why we have to suffer, our pain lures us toward feeling sorry for ourselves.

Beware of this, as from here we are only one step from self-righteousness, where we take note and start to record life’s injustices against ourselves. At this stage we find a snare that makes us believe it’s so unfair and feel like blaming God.. this only ends in heartache, loneliness and death. Distancing ourselves from God an the glory to come. Don’t backslide. Stay strong in your faith.

We can often ask questions of God and forget or don’t have time to wait or seek the answer. It’s not fair to ask a question as a statement then do nothing.

Job teachers us though his attitude, the wisdom of perseverance and patience in seeking Gods help and wanting answers, even when the answers we get, we may not like, just like in job’s case.

Job was humbled by God as God answered Job effectively stating, who are you to question me on how I govern all my creation. On the surface it may seem a but harsh. But in reality is it not true? After all God created us for his glory,

Romans 8:28 NIV

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

We just need to trust.

We live for his glory and we die for his glory, being provided a seat at the banquet table in heaven.  Eternal life. I care to guess we find the answer of God to job confronting as it reminds us, the world, Gods creation does not revolve around ourselves.

It is necessary though that we undertake suffering. It is I believe through this process our strength, and our faith and our wisdom truly develops as we are able to humbly learn and accept Gods will and his providence for us and that we are to live a life for the glory of God, not our own.

It is also the best time for us to allow the holy spirt inside of each of us to rise to the occasion and guide us through. Job 32:8 NIV

But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.

Laying in bed sick. Helpless with grief. What’s easier to do than have communion with God. You don’t even have to get up, move your lips or open eyes.

Direct yourself to Christ. you’ll be so much more content and able to enjoy the love around. You may even see Gods glory at work, not just around you, but within you… Even in your suffering.

Scripture reminds us that being burdened and despairing of life itself can strengthen our faith

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 NIV – We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired (be without hope) of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead This is because the deepest trials make us rely not on self, but on God who raises the dead.

There is no university for a Christian, like that of sorrow and trial

Charles Spurgeon

 The more we endure with Christ and find him sufficient, the stronger our faith becomes. As it is through our faith we receive Gods Grace and are saved as a result of Christ Death and resurrection.

A beautiful example of suffering for gods will and Glory. Don’t forget Christ asked for God to take the cup from him the night before his arrest. Finishing his prayer with your will be done. And Gods will, was done. But it was necessary for us that it be done, for now through Christ, we are all worthy and assured eternal life in Heaven. We all have a real hope and can find in that hope, a spiritual  peace and comfort.

Just like  God tells Job, Who are we to question Gods plans.

Amen

1 Corinthians 15:58

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

Psalm 25:1-22 NIV – Psalm 25

4 Show me your ways, LORD,

Teach me your paths.

5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,

For you are God my Saviour,

And my hope is in you all day long.

6 Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,

For they are from of old.

7 Do not remember the sins of my youth

And my rebellious ways;

According to your love remember me,

For you, LORD, are good.

21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,

Because my hope, LORD, is in you.