I know what to do next. Turn in your Bible to Job chapter 3. What God's offering does to us and the struggles of our faith.
I've been bringing a series of messages on the development of persevering faith. That's what God was doing in the life of Job and that's what God intends to do in the life of all of his children. God has many tools in his toolbox in order to produce that in our lives.
You know, we have these wonderful statements from Job and we just stand back and we're amazed in the face of incredible loss. He makes this statement, naked I came from my mother's womb and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
In all this, Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong. We go, wow. And then again, the same thing when his health was taken from him. He said something similar. And we stand back and we wonder and say, you know what, could I respond if the storms of life hit me like they hit Job?
Would I come down and would I be standing on my feet or would I be a mess? Well, we're reminded that every day we have to get up and decide and determine we're going to trust the Lord. You may have done well yesterday but it's funny how you can go to bed at night and have things resolved in your mind and feel pretty good and then you wake up in the morning and you get hit in the face with what you thought you'd settled the day before. And you're like, what?
Any of you experienced that? And it's like a fresh challenge. You're like, now wait a minute, I thought I was over this hurdle.
And it hits you in the face again. Well, that's what happened to Job. Listen, this is on the heels of those incredible statements of faith. Chapter 3, after this, and this is after Job's friends came and ministered to him, after this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job spoke and said, may the day perish on which I was born and the night in which it was said a male child is conceived. May that day be darkness, may God above not seek it, may the light shine upon it, may darkness and the shadow of death claim it. May a child, may a cloud settle on it, may the blackness of the day terrify it. As for that night, may darkness seize it, may it not rejoice among the days of the year, may it not come into the number of the months.
Oh, may that night be barren, may no joyful shout come into it, may those cursed who curse the day, let those who are ready to arouse Leviathan. May the stars of its morning be dark, may it look for light but have none, and not see the dawning of the day, because it did not shut up the doors of my mother's womb, nor hide sorrow from my eyes. Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?
Why did the knees receive me, or why the breasts that I should nurse? For now I would have lain still and been quiet, I would have been asleep, then I would have been at rest, with kings and counselors of the earth who built ruins for themselves, or with princes who had gold who filled their houses with silver. Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, like the infants who never saw light? There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest, there the prisoners rest together, they do not hear the voice of the oppressor, the small and the greater there, and the servant is free from his master. Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, who long for death but it does not come? And search for it more than hidden treasures, who rejoice exceedingly and are glad when they can find the grave?
Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in? For my sighing comes before I eat, and my groanings pour out like water. For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.
I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, I have no rest, for trouble comes." Whoa, that's a different side, isn't it? Than the Job we saw in chapters 1 and 2.
I've never taught through the book of Job, I've never preached through the book of Job, pretty much apart from a few random passages that I've preached from, my concentration in the book of Job has been chapters 1 and 2. But this brings us back to reality, doesn't it? This man is struggling, this man, did you notice the language and the references to darkness? No light, he's just overwhelmed, he curses the day he was born. He wished the day had never come on which he was born, verse 3. He wishes the night had never been on which he was conceived, verse 3. He wishes the day had been darkness when he was born, verse 4. He wishes God had kept the light from ever dawning on that day, verse 4. He wishes the blackness of night and gloom had blotted it out, verse 5. He says, I wish to never celebrate my birthday again because I wish it had never happened, verse 6. Why would Job ever say such things?
Well, because he's depressed, he's hit rock bottom, he's a man gripped by sorrow and he's wishing that his life would end. This is what one commentator says about chapter 3, he says, the third chapter of Job must be one of the most depressing chapters in the Bible. Few sermons are made from this chapter, few verses are claimed as promises and few are remembered for their warmth. It may very well be the lowest point in the book. You see, that's what you face when you preach through a book and you study through a book. You see, you can go and read the first two chapters and come away with this picture of Job. Man, this man lives on a plane nobody else lives on.
How could anybody endure those losses and still? Well, he's a man just like you and I and he had to hit rock bottom and he does, he hits rock bottom. Job has arrived at the point where he sees no good reason nor explanation for the trials that have come upon him. He doesn't see any end to his suffering, he assumes God has abandoned him and he sees no way of escape from his trouble. Job wishes he had died at birth, verse 11 and 12. Why did I not die at birth, he says, why did I not perish when I came from the womb?
That's pretty hopeless, isn't it? And Job longs for death to come, notice verse 20 and 21. Why is light given to him who is in misery and life to the bitter of soul, who long for death but it does not come and search for it more than hidden treasures?
Wow. Now Job is not doubting the existence of God. In fact, he refers several times to God and he assumes that God is the one who has surrounded him.
He says there in verse 23, God has hedged me in. He believes God is behind all of this. Now, it's important to make this distinction, Job is not talking about ending his life. He wants God to take his life. There's a vast difference between those two.
Both desire life to end but one leaves it up to God and the other wants to take that matter into his own hands. You know, Job did not realize that he was a man on special assignment from God. Not just for himself but for his life story is recorded for us and here we are thousands of years later benefiting from his life. You all know the story of Joni Eareckson Tada. Listen to her testimony. She says, As I lay immobilized in the hospital, my mind swirled with questions.
When I learned that my paralysis was going to be permanent, I was desperate for answers. One of the first places I turned after my diving accident was, guess where? The book of Job.
The book of Job. So, when life knocks your legs out from under you and you hit bottom, you know, when you think about your life and some of the frightening experiences you've had as a kid, I remember jumping off a diving board in deep water like 12, 14 feet. Someone said, don't worry about it. When you hit bottom, just your feet and you'll come back up. And I remember jumping off that diving board and hitting the water and thinking, there is no bottom. You know what I'm talking about?
It's terrifying. You think, what have I done? Am I going to surface? And it's kind of like that here for Job and his struggle with his faith. He's hit bottom. He can't find footing, but he does. He finds footing in God. So, are there solutions when life has really knocked the wind out of us, knocked our feet out from under us?
Here's some suggestions. It is absolutely critical that we think right thoughts about God. The battle is in our mind. And when we get up in the morning and we start thinking, God's abandoned me, God's against me, we've got to combat that. 2 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 5 admonishes us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
Those are lies. God hasn't abandoned us. God is not against us. If God be for us, who can be against us? If we're a child of God, God has unequivocally demonstrated that He's for us. He's not against us. But we've got to combat lies with truth.
When C.S. Lewis was watching his wife lose her battle with cancer, listen to what he said. He says, I am not in danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is to believe terrible things about God. The conclusion I dread is not so there's no God after all, but so this is what God is really like.
That's where he was struggling. And we've got an adversary that loves to whisper in our ear. If God really loved you, He wouldn't have done this to you. He wouldn't allow this to happen. We've got to combat that. Refuse any counsel, any thought that comes from yourself or any thought that comes from anybody else that denies the sovereignty of God. Any feeling, any counsel that raises doubts about our past, our present, or our future not being under the guidance of the sovereign God of the universe is false.
We must head that off. Another word of counsel, do not avoid the means of grace. When you're beat up and you're sorrowing, it's easy to just turn in on yourself. And I don't want to be unkind, but in a sense have a pity party.
Woe is me. At the time we most need one another, we tend to isolate ourselves. I don't want to talk to anybody. I don't want to see anybody.
That's not good. God has given us one another to help us bear each other's burdens. We need one another. It's hard. It's hard to maintain your devotional life. It's hard to read the scriptures when you're sorrowing. But you cannot, do not avoid the means of grace, prayer. Continue to seek the Lord. And then remember that others have walked similar paths.
Again, this is from Joni Eareckson Tada. Trapped, face down, staring at the floor, hour after hour, she says, my thoughts grew dark and hopeless. All I could think was, God, I prayed for a closer walk with you.
And if this is your idea of an answer to prayer, I'm never going to trust you with another prayer again. I can't believe that I have to lie face down and do nothing but count the tiles on the floor of this torture rack. I hate my existence. And she asked the hospital staff to turn the lights off and everybody leave the room. And there she is in traction, upside down, suspended from this apparatus, staring at the floor. She was in a bad way. She says, a friend came and listened to my rants and raves and cry. And then she put a Bible on a little stool in front of me and turned to this verse, Psalm 18 6, in my distress, I called upon the Lord and I cried to God for help.
I love the story that she tells about a woman by the name of Beverly who contacted her by email. Her husband's name was Ron. He was a pastor. He'd been in an accident and had become a quadriplegic. He continued to minister for a little while and then he just quit. And then he just withdrew, withdrew from her, withdrew from the family, given up on life. Didn't want to talk to anybody, didn't want to see anybody. So this woman reaches out to Joni Eareckson Todd and asks her if she would reach out to her husband Ron.
And this is what Joni says about an account. She says, I responded to Beverly by calling information and tracking down Ron. Beverly answered and after sharing a prayer with her, I asked if I could talk to Ron. She knocked on his door. He let her tuck the phone under, under his ear. And although he would not respond, I did a little bit of shop talk about quadriplegia.
Shop talk about quadriplegia. She's trying to connect with him. I wanted to move beyond these topics, however, and bridge the conversation to spiritual things. So I started to share favorite scriptures that have sustained me through the toughest of times, like Romans 8, 18.
For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worthy of being compared with the glory that is to be received by us. Silence on the other end. I even sang to him.
Nothing. She says, finally, I did the only thing I could think of that I had not already tried. I asked Ron if he'd ever seen a movie called The Shawshank Redemption. Well, why, yes, I have, he said. Joni says, I couldn't believe it. Ron had responded. Well, Ron, do you remember when Red found Andy's letter?
Do you remember what he said? I think so. Hope is a good thing.
No good thing ever dies. Ron, there are 10,000 other quadriplegics like you and me across America, and all of them were lying in bed this morning wondering whether or not they should get busy living or get busy dying. Ron, I'm going to make a choice to get busy living. Do you want to join me today? He said, yes, ma'am.
Yes, I do. And then the last Joni heard was that Ron and Beverly were active in sharing their testimony to everyone preaching far and near. He had hit rock bottom and some of us have been hit hard by life and we've hit rock bottom and we've learned things we wouldn't have learned any other way.
And we have to make choices, don't we? Am I going to give up or am I going to keep trusting the Lord? Job thought he was forgotten. Was he? Was Job forgotten?
No. He was always under the watchful eye and care of God despite his circumstances. And he certainly had no idea that he would be remembered by millions of believers throughout the course of history. So, that's my plan and purpose is to move through the book of Job rather quickly. I mean, there's 42 chapters. I don't know how long that's going to take, but we're not going to look at two or three verses at a time, and move through a chapter at a time and learn what we can and profit from the word of God. So, I hope this has been helpful tonight. Let me close with a word of prayer. Father, thank you for your word. Thank you for its honesty.
Thank you for its transparency. Thank you that you do not shield us from the realities of hard life. Thank you that you're there with us when we do not sense that, when we feel like you've abandoned us, even when all of our emotions are crying against and warring against our faith. Thank you that you are working in us both to will and to do according to your good pleasure. Thank you that you do desire the development of persevering faith in us. Lord, grant that, work that in us for our good and for your own glory, we pray in Christ's name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-18 12:49:21 / 2023-11-18 12:56:29 / 7