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A Christian Response to Suffering II - Part 1 of 2

Baptist Bible Hour / Lasserre Bradley, Jr.
The Truth Network Radio
December 4, 2022 12:00 am

A Christian Response to Suffering II - Part 1 of 2

Baptist Bible Hour / Lasserre Bradley, Jr.

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December 4, 2022 12:00 am

Guest Speak Brian Hedges speaks at the Cincinnati Primitive Baptist Church annual meeting

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The Baptist Bible Hour now comes to you under the direction of Elder LeSaire Bradley, Jr. O for a thousand tongues to sing, my great Redeemer's praise! The praise of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace!

This is LeSaire Bradley, Jr. inviting you to stay tuned for another message of God's sovereign grace. All hail the power of Jesus' name! Let angels prostrate fall, let angels prostrate fall! Bring forth the royal diocese and crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, and crown Him, Lord of all! Be chosen, see of Israel's grace, He resteth from the fall, He resteth from the fall, with Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, and crown Him, Lord of all! Let every kindred, every tribe, on this terrestrial wall, on this terrestrial wall, to Him all majesty astride, and crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, and crown Him, Lord of all! Oh, that with honor's sake withdrawn, we at His feet may fall, we'll join the everlasting song, and crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, and crown Him, Lord of all!

I know this is a busy time of year, so when I ask you to write, you might say, I can't squeeze that in, but I hope you realize that our expenses go right on in keeping the program on the air, so if you can help us, we will greatly appreciate it. Our address is Baptist Bible Hour, Box 17037, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217, or you can make a donation by going to our website at Today, our guest speaker is Brian Hedges, pastor of Redeemer Church in Niles, Michigan.

The message was delivered at Cincinnati Promotive Baptist Church at the annual meeting this year, the third weekend of October. We began last night looking at this topic of suffering in the book of Job, and we really just saw in those opening two chapters that Job, this righteous man, is a man who suffers in mysterious ways. He doesn't understand why he's suffering, but he suffers incredible calamities of all kinds. He loses all ten of his children, he loses all of his wealth, and then he eventually loses his health as well, so much so that his wife says to him, why do you retain your integrity, curse God, and die? But in the midst of all that suffering, Job continues to trust the Lord.

He submits himself to God, he worships God, he says, naked came I from the womb, and naked shall I return thither, the Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord. And so we really looked at God's sovereignty over suffering. There is a mystery to our suffering, and we saw that there is this other person in the story that Job didn't seem to know anything about. There is the adversary, there is Satan, the one who directly afflicted Job, and yet this Satan is, if we could use the words of Martin Luther, God's Satan. That is, he is a Satan, an opponent, an adversary who is under the sovereignty of God.

He's on a leash, and he could not do anything without permission from the sovereign God. And so Job was right to trust God in his suffering, to trust God in his affliction, and to submit to the Lord. And that's really what we find in those first two chapters of Job. And then in Job chapter 2 verse 11, we discovered that there are some other characters that we'll figure prominently in this book, the friends of Job.

They're introduced in verses 11 through 13. It says, now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came, everyone from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice and wept. And they rent everyone his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him, for they saw that his grief was very great. And then from Job chapter 3, all the way through Job chapter 37, you have a series of speeches.

And that's actually what makes this book perhaps difficult to understand as we read it. You have cycles of speeches as Job speaks and then one of the friends will speak, each in turn, Eliphaz and then Bildad and Zophar. And interspersed with those speeches are Job's responses, his replies. There are three cycles of those speeches with the three friends. The third cycle cut short so that Zophar only speaks two times. He doesn't speak in the third cycle. And then in chapter 32, a new character is introduced, a young man named Elihu or Elihu.

And his speeches cover chapters 32 through 37. And sometimes it can be difficult when you're reading this book to remember who's talking at what point. You always have to go back and sometimes you have to go back a couple of chapters to see who it is that's speaking. And it can make the book of Job somewhat difficult to interpret.

We have to be careful that we don't take words out of context. We're going to look at the speeches of the three friends and Elihu this afternoon. Today, this morning, what I want us to do is really focus on the words of Job. And Job's words really do make up the majority of the book. When you count them out, there are 11 speeches from Job. And those speeches contain something like 8,000 words. A typical sermon probably only contains about 6,000 words, which means that we could spend the entire time just reading the speeches of Job.

So obviously we can't do that this morning. And so the approach is going to be a little different than last night, rather than reading through a passage here at the beginning and then working our way through it. I just want to take some snippets from Job's speeches to try to understand how Job responds to his suffering, especially how he responds in terms of prayer. And one of the things that you'll notice, and the commentators point this out, the contrast between the speeches of Job's friends and the speeches and the words of Job, is that Job's friends talk about God a lot. They talk about God. Now Job will also do that. He'll talk about God, but Job keeps returning to talk to God. And there's a difference in what the friends say, although some of what they say sounds right and is right, but it's wrongly applied.

We'll see that this afternoon. But there's a real difference between their theorizing, their theologizing about God and Job, who's in the midst of this suffering and keeps bringing his concerns to God himself. And so what I want us to do is look at three themes in the words of Job. And these are themes that show up both in his speaking about God, but also in his words to God.

So I think it's appropriate to think of this in terms of Job's prayers. So three things I want you to see. We see his lament, first of all. Secondly, his complaint. And thirdly, his request. Okay, Job's lament, Job's complaint, Job's request.

I want to point out each one of those and just show you some examples of each and then make some application along the way with three practical lessons at the end. So first of all, let's consider Job's lament. And we can focus mostly on Job chapter 3.

And what you see are some really raw emotions honestly expressed by Job in this chapter. Let's begin in Job chapter 3 verse 1. After this, opened Job his mouth and cursed his day. Now note, he is not cursing God, and he never does. But he is cursing the day of his birth. Verse 2, and Job spake and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, there is a man-child conceived. Let that day be darkness. Let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. Essentially, what Job is saying is, I wish I'd never been born.

Or, I wish I was dead. You have the same thing at the end of the chapter, verses 24 through 26. For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roaring are poured out like the waters. For the thing which I greatly feared has come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is coming to me.

I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet, yet trouble came. He's expressing here the anguish and the agony that it feels in his heart. And the words that are used here, sighing and groaning, are very vivid words. The word sighing is often used for the roaring of a lion. And groaning is used to describe someone who is weeping or bawling uncontrollably in mourning.

David Jackman, in a wonderful book on Job, says, This is no whimpering sigh. It is the gut-wrenching howl of a man in pain, knocked down by grief and overwhelmed by anxiety as well. So when we read the book of Job, don't get the idea that Job suffered stoically without any expression of emotions. He cried. He wept. He bawled.

He roared. He experienced this deep anguish. In between these expressions of anguish, I wish I was dead and I'm roaring all the day long, in between in chapter three, there are questions. And they are why questions.

Just a few examples. Verse 11, Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly? Verse 12, Why did the knees prevent me?

Or why the breasts that I should suck? For now I should have lain still and been quiet. I should have slept.

Then I'd been at rest. He's wishing that he had been stillborn at birth. You have the same sentiments in verse 20. Wherefore or why is light given to him that is in misery and life into the bitter and soul, which long for death but it cometh not? And dig for it more than for hid treasures, which rejoice exceedingly and are glad when they can find the grave. Why is light given to a man whose way is hid and whom God hath hedged in?

He's asking these questions. Why is he permitted to live in this misery? And then one more example from Job chapter 10, verses 18 and 19, he asks, Why then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? O that I had given up the ghost and know I had seen me. I should have been as though I had not been.

I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. Now those little snippets from Job's speeches and prayers, some of those directed directly to God, you can hear his agony. You can hear the emotion.

And in fact, the emotional range in the speeches of Job is quite astounding. You have silent shock in chapter 2, verses 11 through 13. You have roaring grief, as we saw in chapter 3, verses 24 through 26. And in the speeches that follow, you also have burning anger, futile longing, bitter complaints, tenacious arguments, reflective memory, and through it all, a piercing sense of loss. And some have observed that Job seems to experience what psychologists and grief counselors have called the stages of grief. In 1969, Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote a book on death and dying inspired by her work with terminally ill patients, and she said that there were five stages of grief. Denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

It became known as the Kubler-Ross model. I think today, it maybe is questioned if everyone goes through those stages in that order, but those are certainly the kinds of emotions that people feel when they are suffering. And they may feel them in all different kinds of ways, and Job seems to express all of those. So we see lament. He is expressing his grief and his sorrow, both to his friends and to the Lord.

And I think the first application for us is simply this. If anyone is afflicted, let him pray. It's to learn, brothers and sisters, to pray through the emotions that we feel when we are suffering. And if I can make this as concrete and practical as possible, what I would so deeply encourage you to do is learn to pray the Psalms. Learn to pray the Psalms. Calvin famously said that the Psalms are an anatomy of all the parts of the soul, so that there's scarcely an emotion that we can feel that's not expressed somewhere in the Psalms. The Psalms, of course, were the hymnbook of God's people in the Old Testament, but when you read through the Psalms, you will find that over and over again, every possible experience of suffering or grief and every emotional experience that we can have in life is somehow expressed and taken up in the language of prayer and is directed to God.

Someone has wisely said that all Scripture speaks to us, but the Psalms speak for us. And I would encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Psalms if you haven't already. And when you find yourself in the midst of suffering and you feel afraid, pray Psalm 27. Pray Psalm 46. Or when you feel despair, go to Psalm 88 and make those words your prayer. If you're depressed, go to Psalm 42.

If you feel guilty for sin, go to Psalm 51 and pray, have mercy upon me, O Lord. If you find yourself gripped with doubt, go to Psalm 73. If you're feeling grief and sorrow, go to Psalm 6.

The list could just go on. The Psalms are for us a handbook for prayer and for worship. And the Psalms have been used by God throughout the centuries to sustain God's suffering people in prayer. So pray. Pray the prayers of lament. Pray as Job prayed. Pray your emotions.

Pray the Psalms. So we see first of all, Job's lament. And then the second thing we see is Job's complaint. Job's complaint. Job in his words is very honest about what he felt, what he thought, and how he perceived God. And we can commend Job for his honesty, even if some of the things he expressed were actually mistaken.

And I think we could summarize what Job felt and what he complained in two brief statements. He says first of all, God is hidden from me. God is hidden from me.

I'll give you two examples. Job 9, verse 11. Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not. He passeth on also, but I perceive him not.

Okay, do you hear the words there? He believes that God is out there, but he's not able to discern God's presence. He's not able to discern what God is doing. And this is most obvious in Job chapter 23.

Job 23, verses 8 and 9, and then verses 15 through 17. Verse 8, behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive him. On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him, he hideth himself on the right hand that I cannot see him. Again, the hiddenness of God. God is hidden from me. And then in verse 15, therefore I am troubled at his presence when I consider I am afraid of him, for God maketh my heart soft. I think it means God makes my heart weak or faint, and the Almighty troubleth me because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither hath he covered the darkness from my face. So part of Job's complaint is that he cannot see what God is doing.

God is hidden from him. A number of years ago I read a fascinating book by John Medina called Brain Rules, and it was about the effect of the brain and the health of the brain and the mind on every other aspect of life. But he told a fascinating story about a woman who was under the care of the famous British neurologist Oliver Sacks. This was an older woman who was very intelligent. She was well-spoken, but she had suffered a massive stroke in the back region of her brain that had resulted in her inability to perceive anything to her left, on the left side of her body. Her perception was so limited that when she looked in the mirror to put on her makeup, she would only put makeup on the right side of her face. When she was eating, she would only eat what was on the right side of the plate, and the nurses would have to turn the plate so that she would eat what was on the other side of the plate.

Sometimes she would complain to the nurses that they forgot to bring her coffee or dessert because she thought her portions were so small, but the reality is she was only seeing half of what was there. And when I read that story, I thought, you know, I think that's often how we are in our perception of God's work in our lives. We sometimes can perceive God's blessing, and we say, oh, God's providence did this for me, or God's providence protected me from that, but the reality is that God is always at work.

We're just not always able to perceive it. And this was Job's complaint. God was hidden from him, and while God was certainly at work in the life of Job, nothing had happened to Job that God was not sovereignly governing.

Job yet could not see it. So he says, God is hidden from me. But then, even more strongly than that, he says, God is my enemy. Job chapter 6, verses 1 through 4. But Job answered and said, oh, that my grief were thoroughly weighed and my calamity laid in the balances together, for now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea.

Therefore, my words are swallowed up for the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit, the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me. It's not only that Job feels that God is hidden from him, but he feels that God is against him. Now, again, I think Job is mistaken in that. Job was not actually the enemy of God, and God was not against Job, but he feels that and he expresses that. He expresses it very strongly in a number of different places. Let me just give you one more example, this from Job chapter 16, verses 9 through 14.

And the commentator, David Clines, points out the vivid imagery that Job uses to describe this. He says that Job thinks of God's assaults as if they were the attacks of various kinds of opponents. A wild animal, Job 16, verses 9 and 10. He tareth me in his wrath who hateth me. He gnasheth upon me with his teeth. Mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me. They have gaped upon me with their mouth. They have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully.

They have gathered themselves together against me. He feels like God has betrayed him, like a traitor, verse 11. God hath delivered me to the ungodly and turned me over into the hands of the wicked. In verse 12, he pictures God as an archer. I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder. I'm sorry, this is verse 13.

His archers compass me round about. Verse 12, he pictures God as wrestling him to the ground. I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder. He hath also taken me by the neck and shaken me to pieces and set me up for his mark. Also in verse 13, he pictures God as a swordsman who is cleaving him asunder. He cleaveth my reins asunder and doth not spare me.

He poureth out my gall upon the ground. It's just a number of very vivid images that Job uses to picture how he perceives God, God to be against him. You can summarize pretty much everything in just one sentence, Job chapter 13, verse 24, where he says, Wherefore hideest thou thy face and holdest me for thine enemy?

This is really clear. This is what Job thinks. God is hidden from me, and God is against me. God has become my enemy. Now, before we judge Job too harshly for his words that perhaps seem to be unmeasured, we should remember a couple of things.

Here's one. In all of this, Job is speaking still as a believer. He never denies the Lord. He misunderstands God's ways, but he continues to be a faithful worshiper of God who retains his integrity, and he refuses to curse God or disown him. Oh, once I had a glorious view of my redeeming Lord.

He said, I'll be a God to you, and I believed his word. But now I have a deeper stroke than all my groanings are. My God has made a plate for Sukkis gone, I know not where. Oh, what immortal joys I felt on that celestial day when my hard heart began to melt by not dissolved away. But my complaint is bitter now, for all my joys are gone.

I've strayed, I've left, I know not how the lines from me withdraw. Our speaker today has been Brian Hedges, pastor of Redeemer Church, Niles, Michigan. If you would like to hear additional messages from this series on the book of Job, you can find them on our website at I hope you will contact us this week. Till next week at the same time, may the Lord richly bless you all.

And with enjoy this day, my conversation, spiritless, for else I've naught to say. I foreword go in duty's way, but can't perceive him there. Then backward on the road I stray, but cannot find him there.

On the left hand where he doth walk... The Baptist Bible Hour has come to you under the direction of Elder LeSaire Bradley, Jr. Address all mail to the Baptist Bible Hour, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217.

That's the Baptist Bible Hour, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217. What shall I do? Shall I lie down and sink in deep despair? Will he forever wear a crown or hear my feeble prayer? No, he will put his strength in me. He knows the way I've strove. And when I try sufficiently, I shall come forth as gold.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-04 07:20:36 / 2022-12-04 07:30:34 / 10

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