Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. We can know that our life has a purpose, even when we suffer along the way.
Job learned this from the voice in the whirlwind. If you're going through unspeakable pain, listen with us to that voice. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, God seems to take Job down several notches as he interrogates his suffering servant.
I wonder how the Lord would evaluate you and I. Well, you know, as I stopped to think of it, Dave, I realized that what God wants to do is to show us that He is God and we are not. And it is absolutely true that we cannot pry into all of His purposes. We cannot read the fine print of what He is doing. But He has given us enough revelation to know that He is trustworthy. We can believe Him.
We can trust Him, even when we don't see His purposes. That's why Job repents in the presence of God and that's perhaps the best that we can do when we don't understand. I've written a book entitled God, Why Me? Of course, it's based on the book of Job. It's a short, accessible book and for a gift of any amount, it can be yours.
You can go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Our desire is always that we have a better vision of God. Job began to realize, you know, there is a plan.
There is a plan. There is a purpose in everything. I had charged God with treating me arbitrarily. I had said that God had no right to speak to me as He did because after all, I was human and I was receiving something that was unjust. But now I'm beginning to realize that God is running His world and even to the very minute detail of where eagles build their nests, that all must be ascribed to God and He's better than I realize. Now you know, we know of course that God is much better than Job realized He was because we have Jesus Christ.
We have a better revelation. We see God more clearly. Everything that is taught in the book of Job about God is absolutely true, but in the New Testament, we have a different dimension which is largely hidden from the book of Job and that is that we know that God is not only better, but God is gracious.
God is very gracious and therefore can be trusted. Now let me say also that God was purer, purer than Job realized. You know how you and I can learn to live with sin and we have all of that sin within us that we rationalize? Have you ever thought of all that God has to put up with in seeing our little deceptions and the little games that we play that are so skillfully hidden from everyone else and yet God has to put up with it because He sees reality and He sees what is in our hearts? There is nothing that causes us to fall on our knees and say with Job, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee, therefore I abhor myself in dust and ashes. What causes us to say that is not when we see other people.
You see, that's what was going on in the text here all through those chapters of dialogue. Job always kept saying, I'm as good as anybody else and the other men were saying, hey, you know, I think that you're worse than we are because we're not in the same predicament that you are in and on and on the dialogue went and the measure was really the measure of man. Now suddenly Job has a different measuring stick. Now it is suddenly the measure of God and what a difference that makes and Job falls on his face and says, I am vile, as one of the translations has it, because he is in the presence of a holy God whose holiness he had underestimated. Job's first error was to underestimate God, but there was a second error that always goes along with the first. In fact, it's not possible to have the first error without having the other error, and that is that Job overestimated himself. He overestimated himself. Look at what he says there in verse 3. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? He's quoting the words of God, which God applied to him a few chapters earlier. He says, in effect, I'm guilty.
I'm guilty. I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know. I was out of my depth. Now do you realize how we as humans are so frustrated in life? And the reason that we are frustrated is because God created us with intelligence, with minds that probe and that ask questions. But the problem is that even though we can ask questions, we cannot find the answers to the questions that we ask.
Some of them yes, the most important of them no. That's why we're so frustrated. We are created to ask questions.
In fact, it is through the asking of questions that you have science and you have the development of the arts and you have strides in mathematics and astronomy and all of these other very legitimate and excellent sciences, and we have been created by God to probe and to seek and to ask and to wonder and to meditate. And yet at the same time, there comes a barrier beyond which we cannot go. And Job began to cross over that barrier and began to get into realms in which he had no knowledge. How did he overestimate himself? Well, first of all, he overestimated his own knowledge.
He overestimated his own knowledge. He said, I thought I knew God better than I now realize I know him. I thought I had God figured out.
The three friends thought that they had God figured out. You live a righteous life and you are blessed and you live an unrighteous life and God punishes you and you're in trouble and your crops begin to fail and your children die and you have all that cause-effect relationship. They thought they had God figured out and now suddenly they are up against a God whose actions are mystifying and unpredictable.
One of the greatest things that we struggle with. You know why some of you have come here today with a whole lot of anxiety when you are not created to bear any of it? The reason that you and I bear anxiety is because we cannot trust the unpredictability of God.
We don't know whether he's going to give us that job and we don't know whether he's going to have this problem solved and that workout. We don't know all those things, see, and we are just stifled with anxiety because we can't see what God is going to do. I mind you, God in heaven has no anxiety at all. Isn't that wonderful to know, Terry, sitting here in the front? And bless your heart, I'm always glad for those who sit near the front. God has no anxiety at all.
None. Others of you sitting near the front may have some right now, but God has none. What he's saying is I overestimated my knowledge of God. I overestimated my knowledge of myself.
I didn't realize that I was so thoroughly self-righteous. You remember in a previous message how we noticed that Job said, you know, I am suffering being innocent. What a statement. That was a wrong statement.
Job was basically a righteous man, but he became more self-righteous as the questioning became more intense. So first of all, he says, I've overestimated my own knowledge. He's saying also I overestimated my perspective. I thought that I had a right to put the pieces together and to try to make some sense out of my suffering. I thought that maybe if I looked at events and looked at God, I could figure it out and now I realize I can't figure it out. I was beyond the bounds of the proper use of knowledge. I kept pushing into the areas that belong only to the hidden counsels of God.
Now it's okay that we do that. God does not become angry with Job. In fact, if you show up next week as we conclude the book, you'll notice that God is pretty pleased with Job. But my dear friend, there are some things that we will never know because our perspective is very, very limited. I'm told that in a museum there was a guy who used to take the people that would come and he would show them on one floor as they looked up a tangled mess of threads and yarn, different colors, different shapes, no configuration that made sense at all, no pattern. And he would ask them what they think they were looking at and nobody of course knew except that it looked like something that was done perhaps by school children. And then he would take them up the stairs and they would look at the same event, the same thing except from the top and they noticed that really it was a very beautiful tapestry, all kinds of different threads, all kinds of different patterns, color configurations that dazzled the eye.
Now that's the way it is in this life. You see, we look at events and we see this tangled mess and we say, God the mess is tangled and we expect you to show us the beautiful tapestry. Where is the design?
And you know what God says? He says, I'm not going to show you the design. You can look at those tangled webs but I want you to know that you can trust me that there is a design even though it is hidden from your eyes. You cannot figure it out.
Just before we came out of the platform, Pastor Bastian told me that at the conference that they attended, there was a man who had to leave because he received word from his wife that his four-month-old baby son died of crib death. Now you try to figure that out. Make sense out of it. Tell me what God's purpose was. Show me the design.
Show me how this event is going to have all those good repercussions. If you think you know, show me. The answer is we don't know. We don't know.
Oh, we see a little bit of the pattern but we don't see the design, do we? Now here's the question. How do we bridge this gap between ourselves as probing, intellectual, questioning human beings and a God out there who is wholly other, a God whose design and pattern we are not permitted to see, we see only on this side of eternity. We can't look at it from up there, from heaven where it's going to look all different. How do we, how do we bridge the gap? The answer is, of course, faith.
Now here's the thing. When I told you last week that Job was going to finally have a guest appearance by God, many of you probably thought to yourselves, you know, when God appears finally, the mystery is going to be solved. The answer is going to be given. God is going to show Job all of these things that are going to happen as a result of his faithfulness. There's going to be a whole host of various things that will take place. It will be as if Job triggered dominoes that are going to have all of these wonderful effects in his family and throughout all of eternity.
That's what we expect and some of you possibly came today hoping to hear that. Well, I want you to know God says nothing about that, nothing at all. He does not give us the answer that we would seek. He does not give us the answer that we think God owes us. What then is the purpose of it all? What is the bottom line at the end of the day? There is a purpose in it all, obviously, but the purpose is not that we might understand the hidden designs. The purpose is that we might simply trust the designer and that's it. What God was saying to Job is, Job, if I can do all the things that you can't do and if I know all the mysteries that are hidden from your eyes and if I am bigger and if I am better and if I am more holy, why don't you simply trust that I know what I am doing and that I can take you and I can humble you and I can raise someone else up and even though to you it makes no sense, it is a tangled set of threads, why don't you trust me that on the other side there is a beautiful exquisite perfect design.
Just trust me and that is the bottom line of God's coming. When I was about three or four years old out on the farm I remember night we used to go with lanterns. Now some of you don't know that I am that old but actually it is because it was a part of the country where modern technology did not come.
I am much younger than that might suggest. But at the age of three or four I would follow my father who had a lantern and you know these old lanterns made only a very limited amount of light, actually just enough for your feet and that was about all and all that I had to do is to simply stay behind my dad and I was okay. Now one of the things I noticed about those lanterns was this that they never gave us enough light to see where the road went. They only gave us enough light to know where the road was, that's all. But following this lantern, the lantern wouldn't say that there's a ditch up ahead or the road the path veers off over here, the lantern didn't do that. All that the lantern did was say you have enough light now for the next step but where the road led was hid from us. Now as a three or four year old boy I was not concerned about that at all because all that I had to do is to follow my father and I believe that he knew where the road went even if the light did not shine on it. Bottom line, God doesn't tell us where the road leads, does he? We don't know what is going to happen tomorrow. He does not tell us what the design is. He doesn't say now here's the pattern, here's what I'm taking you through and this is the way it's going to end up. It so happens that Job ends up with a wonderful family and children all over again but there are all kinds of people whose life story does not end up this way.
They die young of cancer or silly fluke accidents. God says the place where the road leads and the sense that you are trying to make out of this is hidden from you. But what I expect of you is something that you can do. You can't probe my wisdom. You can't talk about things that are too wonderful for you because they're beyond you. I'm not expecting you to figure that out.
I am expecting you to walk close to me and to believe me. And it is not important that we know the purpose of God as long as we stay close to the person of God. And God says stay close and believe that it will make sense someday when you look at the tapestry from the other side. And the best way for us to be able to accept tragedy is not to become hard-hearted, not to be able to say oh God if you're that kind of a God I don't want to have anything to do with you like some people do. Bless them because they are bitter.
They've been hurt. But that's non-productive. The best things to say is Father it does not make sense. It does not add up at all and I am not going to try to figure it out but neither will I charge you with foolishness. I will lay my hand upon my mouth. I've spoken too much already. Oh I've heard of thee by the hearing of the ear but now my eye sees thee and I repent in dust and in ashes. There was a woman who was bitter at God because her son was killed. She said angrily to her pastor where was your God when my son was killed?
To which he replied he was in the same place where he was when his son was killed. And in the New Testament we have the revelation of God in Christ and God reveals himself and God says through Jesus Christ you can be reconciled, you can be cleansed, you can be forgiven and even though you cannot see the future and even though you cannot see where the path goes you can be confident that you know the guide. You know the guide and at the end of the day it is that that matters that you know who is leading you. And so I ask you today do you know Jesus Christ as your savior which is the really the only thing because Jesus said if you honor me you honor the father and he says no man comes to the father except by me. You are separated from God and even though God may have a plan for you it will be a very harsh obscure plan that will end in damnation if you do not know Christ as savior. There's a whole other set of plans that God has for us. It says in the Bible I know your ways said Jeremiah that the plans that you have for me are good and not evil to give me a plan and a hope and God has those sets of plans for those who stay close to him through Christ. And that's why the best answer to the problem of suffering and evil is for me to point you to a savior that reconciles you to a holy God and then though we cannot I think there's a song that even says this though we cannot trust at times his hand because we do not understand his hand we do trust his heart and we say father I repent in dust and ashes you be God I'll be man and I will believe you no matter what and you know what happens when we get to that point God pours grace into our souls and our hearts are refreshed even though specific questions remain unanswered and if you will let us pray. Father there are people who are listening to this message both here as well as on the radio who are experiencing a great deal of tragedy and heartache some are terribly lonely because you have left some as widows and widowers and then there are those with children who are sick or children who have followed a wrong path or all kinds of injustices have been experienced and father they're asking why we thank you that you believe it's okay for us to ask why but we also know that any answer we get is going to be incomplete and we pray that in these moments you might help us to understand that through Jesus Christ we can get to know you we can get to know the God who is the creator and then we can trust you in all these other areas that are so mysterious grant that Lord we pray and before I conclude this prayer I'm going to ask you now to pray some of you who are coming here today are here today with heavy problems why don't you just give them to a God who has no anxiety just give them over he never intended you to bear those heavy weights and those of you who have never received Christ as Savior and you'd like to know this God though he is terrifying he is also close by why don't you say Lord Jesus be my Savior I'm a sinner be my Savior right now you talk to God if God has talked to you now father here we are give us the confidence to believe that you are too good to do anything bad and too wise to make a mistake and might we believe you no matter what in Jesus name my friend I can imagine I'm speaking to some of you who have doubts about God you may be angry with God you may come to the point in your life where you walk away from the faith because what God does does not make sense God loves for us to trust him even without explanations Job eventually does get some kind of blessings at the end but even if he wouldn't have he certainly would have been a man of faith because in the presence of God he realized that God can do whatever he wills this is one of the last days we're making a very special resource available to you it's a book entitled God why me of course it's based on the book of Job it's a short accessible book and for a gift of any amount it can be yours here is what you do go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 I want to express to you my deep thanks for your continued support of our media ministry it's because of people like you running to win is heard around the world and of course thanks to the internet literally around the world and we receive so many comments from people people being saved changed lives people being impacted even as they face life's very difficult choices and trials once again we're making this resource available to you for a gift of any amount as I mentioned a moment ago go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 ask for the accessible book that I've written entitled God why me it'll give you help in your own trials that will help you even as you counsel others and even if you don't have all the answers I trust that this book will help you to see God in a new way and believe that he knows what he is doing even when we don't understand because when we don't understand we still can worship him. You can write to us at running to win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614 running to win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life in the race of life we all encounter troubles we can't explain and perhaps only the life to come will show us the answers we crave remember though beyond our pain is God himself next time on running to win don't miss Erwin Lutzer's final message on the life of Job the purpose of it all thanks for listening for Dr. Erwin Lutzer this is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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