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The Sighs Of A Suffering Soul Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
November 8, 2022 12:00 am

The Sighs Of A Suffering Soul Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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November 8, 2022 12:00 am

No one is exempt from suffering in this life—not even believers. When the painful circumstances of life arise, depression falls upon the human soul. In this message, we hear four sighs of the soul from a depth of pain to which we all can relate. Why did Job feel God had abandoned him? 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Each of us will experience some kind of suffering along life's track. It goes with the human condition since no one's exempt. The story of Job teaches lessons about suffering all of us need to hear for that time when it's our turn.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Wind with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, the book of Job is among the oldest in the Bible, and it deals with issues as old as mankind, issues about the why of suffering. Dave, you're absolutely right, as a matter of fact, as you were introducing this message, I was reminded of the words of the book of Job where it says that man is destined to trouble as sparks fly upward. No matter who you are, no matter your station in life, your amount of wealth or fame, trouble will come. And the book of Job reminds us that not only does trouble come, but it forces us to ask ultimate questions. I've written an accessible book entitled God, Why Me? It's based on the book of Job. I think it will be helpful to you for yourself and as you comfort others. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. And now once again, we open our Bibles to the book of Job. Tragedy is all over the place, not only happens in the lives of the unconverted, but in the lives of Christians as well. And oftentimes there are people who go through those experiences in which it seems as if God has deliberately hidden his face. There are times when it seems as though the manifest presence of God, that sense of well-being, that sense of peace that often accompanies us, is gone. It may happen because of a series of tragedies. It may happen in your life because of your background, the rejection, and the abuse that you received. It may happen because of illnesses in your home. There are times when it seems as if our emotional light goes out and we are caught in turbulence and despair and depression.

I feel sorry for people who live almost their entire lives feeling depressed, but there are people just like that. And sometimes the cause is because of unresolved guilt and anger, but oftentimes that may not be the cause. It may simply be the circumstances of life that have fallen in on the human soul. Well, as you know, this is the fourth in a series of messages on the book of Job. And last week we dealt with Job's friends, you remember, and I gave you three mistakes that they made and why it was that God was not pleased with them at the end of the book. Well, because the book of Job is so long and because we have only eight messages that we're going to spend, it's not possible for us to go speech by speech.

You know that you're supposed to be doing that in your own reading. What I'd like to do today is to look at the size, that is S-I-G-H-S, the size of the suffering soul. And this morning's message, because of the nature of it, is going to necessitate that we read some of the book of Job and in reading it we are trying to come to grips with how deeply Job felt that God had abandoned him. And in the first part of the message, what I want you to do is to try to absorb into your own life the depth of Job's pain, which was very deep and his sense of abandonment.

Four size of the soul. First of all, I want you to take your Bibles and turn to Job chapter 10, and we pick it up in verse 18, Job chapter 10 verse 18, where he says at the end of one of the speeches that we commented on last time, "'Why, then, hast thou brought me out of the womb? Would that I had died, and know I had seen me? I should have been as though I had not been, carried from womb to tomb. Would he not let my days alone?' And he's speaking to God here, I take it, withdraw from me that I may have a little cheer. And if you just took your hand off my life, if things weren't so bad, let me die.

Before I go and I shall not return to the land of darkness and of deep shadow, the land of utter gloom, as darkness itself, of deep shadow without order, and which shines as the darkness." God, in light of the fact that I did not die at birth, which would have been my preference, in retrospect, let me die now. First of all, I wish that I had not been born, but having been born, it would be best for me now to simply sink into death. By the way, the Bible does say regarding Judas, Christ said, it would have been good for that man if he had not been born. There are some people, many people, it would have been good for them if they had never been born. All people who do not know Christ as Savior and who die without his protection and his righteousness, it can be said of them it would have been good for them if they had not been born. It may not have been good for God because he has a purpose for them, but it would have been good for them if they had not been born. But all those who know Christ as their Savior, or in the Old Testament, who were in contact with God through the means prescribed, which certainly is true of Job, those people can never say it would have been better if I had not been born. 30,000 Americans every year commit suicide, believing it had been better if they had not been born.

Christians need not sink into that kind of despair because they know that God has a purpose and they know that what is happening to them does not happen randomly, but God is in it. Just think of what we would have missed if Job had died here. Think of what he would have missed if he had died here.

There was a purpose, and even though that purpose is still obscure and will be somewhat more revealed at the end of the book, blessed is the person who does not say, I want to simply sink into death. I have a friend who, when his wife had been involved with another man and eventually left him, he said, when I would go to sleep at night, I always hoped I would not awake in the morning. Death sometimes seems like a welcome friend when you're going through that trial, but even he now has a new life, a new ministry, and God has blessed him abundantly. It's a good thing he didn't die after he went to sleep during those dark and difficult days. But first of all, there is then the sigh of depression, when the weight is so heavy upon you, you see no light, and the only light at the end of the tunnel seems to be the lights of an oncoming train.

There is no way out. Secondly, there is the sigh of despair. Turn to chapter 23, for the sigh of despair. This is one of the greatest soliloquies in all of literature.

Years ago, I memorized it in the King James Version of the Bible, so if I find myself quoting it, you'll notice that the text that I learned is a little different than the new American Standard. But Job here is just caught up in this whole idea of what it would be like if he could actually talk to God. He visualizes God in the courtroom, God is the great judge, and what he's saying is, if I could only talk to him directly. If I could only plead my case, like somebody said to me, you know, I've got a ten-page letter already written for God that I'd like to leave on his desk. If only he would read his mail.

And Job is struggling with this whole question. He's saying, if I were to come to God and plead my cause before him, first of all, would he give me the time of day, or would he simply wipe me out? Oh, even today is my complaint rebellion.

My hand is heavy despite my groaning. Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come to his seat. I would present my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would learn the words which he would answer me and perceive what he would say to me. Would he contend with me by the greatness of his power? He gives a little bit of hope here, far be it from me that I should, and I turned two pages here, so no, surely he will pay attention to me. There the upright would reason with him and I would be delivered forever from before my judge. I don't think he'd wipe me away. But then on the other hand, who knows?

I mean a God who is so great and a God who can do this, a God who can take my children and allow me to live with ten fresh graves on the other side of the hill, and then who can come and who can have me stripped of my health so that I am sitting on an ash heap in pain and itching from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. Who knows what he will do? But then he begins to say it's all futile anyway, because I can't find him. Behold, I go forward, he says, but he is not there.

And backward, but I cannot perceive him, and he highteth himself on the left hand that I cannot behold him, and he highteth himself on the right hand that I cannot see him. Where is God now that I need him? Sure it would be nice for me to present my cause before him, but how do you make contact? This telephone seems to be always busy.

The receiver is off the hook. I send him faxes, but I don't get any little slip of paper in return saying that it arrived. And I'm not sure whether or not he's reading his email. How do we know that God is there and that we can somehow approach him? That is a problem, and he's saying, I am filled with futility because I thought I knew God when things were going well, and now that things aren't going well, I am not sure about him anymore. In fact, one of the great lessons of the book of Job is to see how he changes his conception of God. And by the end of the book, his conception of God is going to be so changed that his old conception is going to be literally blown away. But what he says is, this is the sigh of despair.

God is as far from me as the farthest star, and I don't even know where he can be located so that I can present my cause. There's a third sigh. First of all, we notice that Job longed for death, Job longs for God, and since he is blocked in either of those pursuits, he now longs for the past. Chapter 29 begins to long for the good old days.

Oh, if only I could go back to the way in which things were. And of the teenager who prayed, oh God, I pray that this accident might not have happened. Well, it was a little late to pray that, and time does not change. Notice in verse 29, oh that I wear as in the months gone by, as in the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone over my head, and by his light I walked through darkness, as I was in the prime of my days, when the friendship of God was over my tent, when the Almighty was yet with me, and my children were around me, when my steps were bathed in butter, that's a euphemism for being wealthy, when I was so rich that I could have used butter to bathe my steps, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil. When I went into the gate of the city, when I took my seat in the square, the young men saw me and hid themselves, and the old men arose and stood, and the princes stopped talking. They all said, look at there, there's Job, and he walked with a spurt in his step, and with a sense of determination, and they said, he's that wealthy man, and he's got all those nice kids you remember, and he's the one you see whom God has blessed, and everybody stood for him. The young men saw me, they hid themselves, the old men arose and stood, the princes stopped talking, and they put their hands in their mouths.

The voice of the nobles was hushed, and their tongues stuck to their palate. For when the ear heard, it called me blessed, and when the eye saw, it gave witness of me, because I delivered the poor, who cried for help, and the orphan, who had no helper. You see, Job says, I was involved in helping those who were poor, I was not selfish. The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me, and I made the widow's heart sing for joy. Verse 18, then I thought, I shall die in my nest. I'm going to die being wealthy, healthy, and wise, and I shall multiply my days as the sand, and my root is spread out to the waters, and dew lies all night on my branch. My glory is ever new to me, and this is the way in which I'm going to die. Oh, God!

Why can't it be now as it was then? And he begins to struggle with the fact that the past is gone, the glory days are gone, and look at what happens to his friends. Notice chapter 30, verse 9. He was a great hero.

He was honored in the town square. Chapter 30, verse 9 says, and now I have become their taunt. I have even become a byword to them. They abhor me, and they stand aloof from me, and they do not refrain from spitting in my face.

I want you to know today that your trial not only reveals a lot about you, it also says volumes about your friends. This past week I read an entire book. You may be surprised to know that that's somewhat new for me because I have this terrible habit of reading books halfway through and then leaving them half-read. And after I read it halfway through, I get reading another one and read it halfway through. But this one I read right to the end.

It was given to me by Richard Dorch of PTL. And the name of the book was Integrity as he tells the story of his own imprisonment and all that went through in all those shenanigans that we remember many years ago. But one of the things he said about him is when he was brought into prison.

Now here's this man who has instructed millions in righteousness on television. And there he is in jail. One of the first things that was said to him by somebody said, we're waiting for you, so you're the rat. And he was called names during his sixteen months in jail and despised. And one day he walked onto a floor that was being cleaned by one of the prisoners who cursed him out. And Dorch said, with tears in my eyes I pled for his forgiveness.

And he only became more angry. But interestingly, Dorch said that very, very few friends stood with him during that calamity. Where were all the people who thought he was so wonderful when things were going well? Two years ago I had lunch in Los Angeles with a friend of mine who had to resign the ministry because of sin in his life. And there he was in such despair. I remember he said to me, I wish that I could find a rock that I could sit on and do nothing but meditate for a whole year and ponder the meaning of life. I mean, the man's wife had left him the congregation he had to resign from.

The job that he was involved folded. I have never seen a man in such despair. I said, are people from the church ministering to you?

Are they coming? Are they praying with you? And he said, no one from the church has contacted me except one man. And that was over some legal matters. I thought, oh, oh, how easily we abandon our friends when they no longer make us look good and when we see in them no longer any particular use for us. Job says, the people who stood in the town square and held their mouths shut as I walked by out of adoration, they now spit in my face.

He is no more of any value to us. This is known as the sigh of retrogression, oh, that I could still be like I once was in my nest. But God has stirred up his nest and you can't go back. One last sigh, and that is chapter 31, the sigh of betrayal, the sigh of betrayal.

Job just really feels betrayed, not just by his friends, but by God. And what you do is you go through this passage, and I won't read it to you. Years ago I preached on this, and I counted 15 times the word if occurs. Yesterday afternoon I read it, and I could only find the word if 13 times. I said to myself, oh, that it would be in days past when I could count up to the number 15.

Oh, for those days when I could actually see clearly. But I looked at this text, and I realized that what he is saying is, if I was wicked and suffering like this, I'd understand it because I'd be getting my just desserts. But I was a man who showed compassion.

I'm amazed at the compassion of Job here. He said he took care of those who didn't have clothing. Let's pick it up in verse 19 of chapter 31, if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing or that the needy had no covering. Then in effect he's saying, if this happened to me, I'd understand that I deserved it. Or let's look at verse 21, if I have lifted up my hand against the orphan because I saw I had support in the gate.

Notice verse 22, let my shoulder fall from the socket and my arm be broken off at their elbow. In other words, I would be getting what I deserved if I had not been kind to the orphans, not taken care of the widows, and not done what I should do in the land. But I'm doing all these things, and God strips everything from me. He feels betrayed.

Hi friend, I want to share my heart with you. I hope you get over the idea that somehow there is a direct causal relationship between the suffering that people are going through and the life that they lived. I've known very godly people who have suffered tremendously, and of course this is brought out in the book of Job. The first chapter points out that he was a very upright man.

He feared God and turned away from evil, and sometimes the best of Christians suffered the most. I've written a book entitled God, Why Me? It's a short, accessible book. I think it will be a blessing to you. If you feel that you don't need it right now because you're not going through a trial, I can assure you of this.

You know someone who is going through a trial because trouble is all around us. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Now I want to emphasize that we are so deeply grateful to the many of you who support this ministry. Thanks to you, Running to Win is heard in more than 20 different countries in four different languages because of partners who say, yes, we pray for this ministry and we support it.

I hope that you have a pen or pencil. You can go to That's Of course RTWOffer is all one word. or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question you've been wondering about that deals with the Bible or the Christian life. Is it ever okay to support an organization you don't believe in? Carver from Connecticut writes, My sister-in-law asked me to buy a chocolate bar from her son to benefit the Roman Catholic school he attends. Not wanting to offend her, I told her that I'd have to pass on that. Since she wanted to know why, I told her that I cannot support the school because of its Catholic doctrines. And I cited justification by works and not by faith. Now did I do the right thing?

Carver, I really don't think that you did the right thing. Obviously, those of us who are Protestants, we have our differences with the Roman Catholic church. But you should have purchased that chocolate bar.

Furthermore, some of the Catholic schools still uphold morality and have teaching about God, all of which, of course, can't always be said about the public schools that are around us, so sometimes Protestants even send their children to Catholic schools. There is a time for us to highlight our differences with Roman Catholicism, but this is not one of them. I really do suggest that you go to your sister-in-law and tell her that you did wrong, and of course you want to buy a chocolate from her son.

I suggest that you buy two or three of them. Your relationship with them is much more important than trying to make the point about your theological differences. Those can come up in a different context, buy those chocolate bars, and enjoy them. And Carver, send one to Dr. Lutzer. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer.

Or call us at 1-888-218-9337, that's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Some people seem to glide through life unscathed, while others bear unimaginable burdens. Job's anguish of soul during his fiery trials paints a picture of a man crying out to know why. Next time on Running to Win, don't miss more on the crisis of soul we face when undergoing tough trials. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-08 09:10:41 / 2022-11-08 09:16:00 / 5

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