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Hitting Rock Bottom, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 23, 2023 12:00 am

Hitting Rock Bottom, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 23, 2023 12:00 am

If Job -- a man of character, integrity and faith -- can hit rock bottom, you and I can as well. Most of us have already. That is why, when dealing with the problem of suffering, there is no better place for us to turn than to this little Divinely inspired book called Job.

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One author wrote with realism, and I appreciate the older I get authors that write with realism, don't you? He writes, the true believer does not always rise from his knees, full of encouragement and fresh hope. There are times when he may remain down and yet still have prayed well.

Hasn't that been confusing to you? You have prayed well. You have disciplined yourself to be in the Word and you rise from your knees and there is no sense of hope or any sense of encouragement anymore than when you went down on your knees. The strongest believer can experience times of Great Depression. Have you found that to be true? Maybe you've known God for years, but you've still had times when you're incredibly discouraged.

For evidence, you don't need to look any further than Job. He was a godly man, but he found himself in such a state of despair that he actually wished he had never been born. What does God want you to learn from times of despair? What principles can you use to climb out of that pit?

Stay with us because that's what Stephen Davey will cover in this lesson called Hitting Rock Bottom. William, a Wilberforce, was a champion. In fact, this year with the release of a major motion picture about his life, a lot of people are going to be more familiar with him than before. This year marks the 200th anniversary, year anniversary of the passage of the bill he pushed and pulled through Parliament, which eventually led to the abolition of the slave trade in the West Indies and throughout Great Britain. In 1807, William saw this bill passed in Parliament, and the movie details that particular aspect of it. He didn't stop with the passage of that bill. In fact, he would give another 26 years of his life passionately defending the bill to abolish slavery entirely.

In fact, the bill was finally passed in 1833, three days before he died. Wilberforce was a committed believer. That really doesn't come out so much in the movie. I'm in the middle of reading his biography. His uncle and aunt were saved under the ministry of George Whitefield. Then they had a profound influence on Wilberforce's young life, and he would grow up. And eventually after a year or two in Parliament, he gave his life to Jesus Christ.

He would be later discipled and inspired by John Newton, the pastor and author of the hymn, Amazing Grace. While many will only see the heroic side of his efforts in the name of Christ, which was, by the way, the motive for what he did, many will never know that he suffered greatly. Early in his life, doctors prescribed daily opium pills to help him cope with incredible pain in his stomach and surrounding regions.

The medicine of that day, the opium was considered a, quote, pure drug, unquote. But the effects, which they really weren't aware of all that it would do, eventually wore him down. He had colon problems, an inability to see without difficulty, lung problems, painful episodes with ulcers. In fact, he suffered in his middle to late years with curvature of the spine that degenerated over time. The author I'm reading wrote that as a middle-aged man, one of his shoulders began to slope and his head fell forward a little more each year until it rested on his chest, unless lifted by conscious movement. He would have looked grotesque were it not for the charm of his face and the smile about his mouth.

For 20 years, he wore a brace beneath his clothing that most people knew nothing about, a steel contraption around his waist, cased in leather, which supported his back and his arms. The truth is, most of the time we like to hear of heroes who suffer a little, just a little, but we're left somewhat disillusioned and saddened to discover that many of them suffered greatly. We would rather move past their sorrows and just focus on their victories.

That makes better conversation. But what really troubles us is to learn that our heroes of the faith often struggled with despair and even depression. When one great theologian of the 19th century lost his two sons in the space of 30 days, he was brought to that moment he'd never experienced before, he hit rock bottom. He wrote these words, when Jimmy died, the grief was painfully sharp, but the acting of faith, the embracing of consolations, and all the cheering truths which ministered comfort to me were vivid.

Then he went further in the same letter, but when the stroke was repeated and therefore doubled, I seemed to be paralyzed and stunned. I know that my loss is doubled and I know also that the same cheering truths apply to the second as to the first, but I remain numb, downcast, without hope and interest. That's not necessarily the way we're supposed to talk, certainly not as believers. That's why we're a little uncomfortable with the exposure of the feelings of Charles Haddon the Spurgeon, the great preacher of the 19th century, who once wrote to his congregation, I am the subject of depression that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to.

Stephen Lawson, who will be with us this summer in our summer series, writes in his commentary on Job, every person has a breaking point. Every genuine believer has a point at which he can become severely discouraged and even depressed, and such despair can cause a person to want to give up on life. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have ever experienced despair like that and wondered how you could be a Christian and feel that way, I'm not supposed to feel that way, right?

I'm a believer. If you have ever been hurt so badly that you wish you could just go on to heaven, you just lie down and die, if you ever looked for that escape hatch in life and checked the back door and was defeated because it was padlocked, you may have more in common with true heroes of faith than you knew, for those who are real and those who spoke about it. Like David, the heroic singer king, who wrote his 88th chapter, his 88th Psalm, and it begins and ends in despair. He writes, oh Lord, you have put me in the lowest pit, and he ends it by saying darkness is my closest friend. One commentator said of that Psalm, there's not one crumb of comfort. Or maybe it's John the baptizer.

He's certainly one of my heroes. When I think of John the Baptist, I think of that crusty prophet who stared the world down and never flinched, never blinked an eye, yet watch him in prison where he reaches a breaking point in his own life. A few hours away from being killed by Herod for having condemned his immorality, he's wondering at that moment if all of his efforts and all of his preaching and all of his calls for repentance were worth it. In fact, he wonders if he has mistaken his allegiance to Christ. It seems that Christ was not fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament. After all, prisoners were supposed to be freed, and here I sit in prison. So he sends a delegation of his disciples to Jesus Christ, and they ask him a question on behalf of John their leader. And here's the question.

Are you the expected one or shall we look for someone else? Can you imagine that? He'd hit rock bottom. Even though he baptized Jesus, he'd heard the voice from heaven. He saw the Spirit descending like a dove. He saw the miracles of Christ that only God could perform through him.

He would have to be the God-man, the Messiah. But now he's wondering, are you really the Messiah or should we pack our bags and look for somebody else? That's not the way we expect heroes of the faith to talk. Perhaps that's why this particular study today may trouble us. Chapter 3 makes us uncomfortable. And so I'm guilty along with perhaps many of you.

We study Job chapters 1 and 2. Oh, we love that. We marvel at the man who says in chapter 1 verse 21, blessed be the name of the Lord. That's the way a hero of faith speaks.

Or in chapter 2 verse 10 where he confides to his wife and challenges her, shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity? That's how you talk. That is perfect vocabulary for church, especially those who know God.

That's how we expect them to speak. So let's move quickly past chapter 3 and get on to the rest of the book where Job is restored. Think about it. I mean, have you ever met anybody who ever memorized a verse of scripture from chapter 3 of Job? Who wants to memorize a verse like, let the day perish on which I was born? That's a good one. Or here's a verse.

Why did I not die at birth? Or later on in the chapter, I am not at ease, nor am I quiet. I am not at rest, but turmoil comes. Isn't that encouraging? Can't you see that framed out in the lobby of the church? That'd be perfect, wouldn't it?

I am not at ease, nor am I quiet. That'd be a good verse for the nursery department. It could be a theme verse, but I don't know about the rest of us. So let's kind of just rush to the end where he's restored to hell.

Not so fast. What about chapter 3? We're going to move quickly through the entire chapter today. His first speech could be divided simply into three stanzas. You notice we move into poetry now and it'll stay in poetic form until the end of the book, near the end of the book. The first section could have the heading, Job curses the day he was born. That takes you from verse 3 down to verse 10. The second section begins with verse 11. It could be entitled or headlined, Job wishes he died at birth. That'll go all the way from verse 11 down to verse 19. The third and final section could be entitled, Job longs for death to come now. That takes us from verse 20 down to the end of his speech. Now, by taking a quick scan of the first section, you could circle the repetitive use of the word let, L-E-T or may, M-A-Y.

In Hebrew syntax, these words are known as jussives. These are words that refer to desire as if they could issue commands. You could translate it correctly, I wish. What does he wish? Verse 3, I wish the day had never come when I was born. I wish the night had never happened when I was conceived. Verse 4, I wish the day was darkness when I was born. Later in verse 4, I wish God didn't care about my birthday, that he'd kept the light from ever dawning on that day. Verse 5, I wish the blackness of night and gloom would blot it out. Verse 6, I wish no one ever to celebrate my birth date again because I wish it never happened. Why would Job ever say such things?

Because he's depressed, he's despairing, he's hit rock bottom and wants nothing to do with life. No wonder Robert Alden wrote, the third chapter of Job must be one of the most discouraging chapters in all 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, and rightly so.

Think about it. By now, after several months of suffering, Job has arrived at that point where he can't see any good reason or explanation for his trials. He doesn't have any idea what to do next. Further, he doesn't see any end to his suffering.

There isn't a doctor that has said this will last three more months or maybe even a year. He assumes that God has abandoned him and for no good reason. And on top of it all, Job can see no escape or exit door out of his suffering and pain. And so he comes forth with this lamenting. The prophet Jeremiah reached the same rock bottom state. Listen to what he said, cursed be the day I was born. Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me.

He understood and used the same language, didn't he? In the first section of Job's lamentation, you also will notice the use of the words for darkness, verse 4, darkness and black gloom, verse 5, blackness of the day, the latter part of verse 5, darkness, let darkness seize it, verse 6, the first part of verse 9, let the stars of its twilight be darkened. Dark, dark, dark, dark. I found it interesting that as I've read the stories of two people who suffered greatly, I found it intriguing that both of them wanted to be left alone in the dark. Joni Eareckson Tada was one of them who after becoming paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident, lying in a hospital bed that would be flipped over every three hours with her sort of strapped into the bed to keep her from falling. But there she sort of hung suspended so her back would not have any pressure on it so it would heal, looking directly down into the tiles of her hospital room floor three hours at a time.

So she finally demanded that everyone leave and the lights be turned out, she wanted to be left alone in the dark. That's the vocabulary of this man who has hit rock bottom. Job even suggests in verse 8 that somebody conjure up Leviathan, an interesting phrase. The great sea monster Isaiah called him the dragon of the sea. The superstitions abounded. I don't believe Job believed in them. This animal is extinct now for us but this great creature they believe could be conjured up and he would come up and he would swallow the sun and he'd wipe out the existence of that day. Job leans on that and says, well, if anybody could even conjure up Leviathan to come and swallow the sun and get rid of the day I was born, that would satisfy me. I wish it had never taken place. The second section of Job's lament is no more hopeful than the first.

I warn you. He says in verse 11, why did I not die at birth, come forth from the womb and expire? In other words, I can't turn back the clock and not be born but I wish then I at least been stillborn. Why did the knees receive me?

He writes. That phrase, by the way, does not refer to a mother welcoming her newborn baby. It refers to the father placing the child on his lap and blessing it before God and blessing God because of the child. Job says in effect in that text, why did I have to be conceived? Why did I have to be birthed? Why did I have to be birthed? Why did I have to be blessed and fed? Why couldn't I just have died and been spared all this misery?

One of the dominant themes of this second section is Job's desire for rest. In verse 13, oh, I would have lain down and been quiet. I would have slept then. I would have been at rest.

Verse 17, the wicked cease from raging. There the weary are at rest. He's exhausted physically and emotionally and spiritually and intellectually in every way. And he says, I just want to lay down and be quiet. I want to sleep. Maybe some of you have suffered some illness and it's lasted for a number of days or maybe even months and you know what he's talking about. If you could just get some rest.

He says, I'm tired. I just want rest from all this trouble. I need relief from my sorrow. The third section, which begins with verse 20, could be simply entitled, I just want to die now. Notice verse 20, he writes, why is light given to him who suffers?

Light is a reference or metaphor for life and life to the bitter of soul who longs for death but there is none and digs for it more than for hidden treasure. In other words, he's saying a casket would be better than a buried treasure chest that I would find. Death, he says, is my treasure and I am hunting for it.

It would be a treasure to me if I could only find it. By the way, you need to understand this lamenting is not a cry of defiance against God. It is a cry of despair to God. In fact, Job is not doubting the existence of God. He refers several times to God. In fact, he assumes that God is the one who boxed him in and is responsible for this. And he isn't talking about taking his life. He's wanting God to take his life. There's a vast difference in those two desires. Both want life to end.

One leaves it to God and the other takes matters into their own hands. He's saying, I just want my life to be over. Okay, I was born and I did live and I was fed and I was blessed and I did experience all that I experienced but now let me die. Why do you, he asks, give more life to those who suffer? Have you ever asked that question about someone you've seen suffer? Why do you let them suffer?

Why not take them? Or maybe you've wondered that yourself. Maybe you're listening to this lamenting poem and you're thinking, man, I thought I had it bad. I thought I was suffering. I thought I was depressed. But not after Job chapter 3.

I'm better off than I thought. Thank you, Job. That's okay.

That would be good. But maybe you're listening and you're thinking, I know what Job's talking about. I think I know how he feels. Heroes of the faith aren't supposed to have chapter 3s in their lives but I've kept quiet but Job is speaking for me. This is my language.

This is my turf. Is it any wonder that so many people throughout the ages have turned to the book of Job when they themselves have hit rock bottom? Johnny Eric Santada has written, 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. And one of the first places I turned after my diving accident was to the book of Job. He understands me. Let me make some application from this speech from one of our heroes of the faith.

It's at the bottom of the pit. For the strongest believer, even for those who have walked with God, there are seasons, first of all, when you believe that you are hopelessly bound to suffer. In verse 23, Job says that God has hedged him in and whom God has hedged in.

Interesting use of word. The same word was used by Satan in chapter 1, verse 10 to say that, well, God, you've hedged Job about so that bad things cannot happen to him. And now Job is saying, I am hedged in by God so that bad things won't leave me alone and I can't get away. I can't escape. Sign on the doorway of my life says no exit. I'm stuck. There will be seasons when you believe you are hopelessly bound to suffering.

Now I'm neither defending or suggesting this is a course of action. In fact, it may make your despair deeper. But this may be the path you're on as you travel back to the surface, as you discover that a hero of faith can be involved in the will of God and the will of God hurt. There will be episodes when anger replaces praise. This has never been put to music, has it? But maybe you've sung it yourself.

Maybe you've ranted and raved these lyrics in the dark. There will be periods when resentment overshadows trust. There will be moments when despair replaces hope.

One author wrote with realism and I appreciate the older I get authors that write with realism, don't you? He writes, the true believer does not always rise from his knees full of encouragement and fresh hope. There are times when you may remain down and yet still have prayed well.

Hasn't that been confusing to you? You have prayed well. You have disciplined yourself to be in the word and you rise from your knees and there is no sense of hope or any sense of encouragement anymore than when you went down on your knees. There will be moments when despair replaces hope.

Times when we pray because we must and in those times we need it most are oftentimes when it's hardest to pray. Well, would there be any guidelines, any way to surface after you've hit rock bottom? Let me provide in a practical way with other scriptures some thoughts to get you thinking along biblical lines.

Solutions for those who've hit rock bottom. Number one, accept only those thoughts about God that are supported in Scripture. Destroy every speculation, every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, what God's Word says about God in that self disclosure. Every thought, take it captive to the obedience of Christ.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians. Take every thought into captivity. That's the battle. Treat those thoughts coming toward you as it were like baggage at the airport. You run it through the scanner to see if there's anything dangerous, any weapon that might make its way inside and burrow its way down into your heart.

Guarded well, when C.S. Lewis was losing his wife to cancer, he wrote, I am not in danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is to believe terrible things about God.

That's the danger. He said, the conclusion I dread is not so there's no God after all, but so this is what God has really liked. Well said. Number two, refuse the counsel of others, including your own personal feelings that doubt the sovereign plan of God. This was the downfall of Eve, was it not, who believed that God was withholding from her what was best. This was the downfall of the Israelites who believed that God was not worth following in the wilderness. Any feelings that drive you deeper into that pit, rejected, do battle there.

Any counsel from a friend, a family member, an extended acquaintance or whatever that raises doubt about your past and present and future not being under the sway of the sovereign God is false counsel. It is wayward emotion. Refuse it to battle at those moments. Number three, cultivate a deeper love and taste for sacred things, for sacred substance.

It might be the assembly. When you hit rock bottom, you're going to be tempted to avoid it. Don't.

It might be the scriptures. When you hit rock bottom, you are tempted to neglect them. Don't. It might be the friendship of another believer. When you hit rock bottom, you'll be tempted to ignore it.

Instead, what you'll be doing is developing habits that are unhealthy, that will only add to your misery. Well, friend, Stephen is looking at these principles that you need to keep in mind when you face dark periods in your life. We're going to make this message into two parts and we'll bring you the conclusion next time. This message is called Hitting Rock Bottom. I wonder if times of despair and discouragement have ever led you to think that God has abandoned you. Maybe you've started to wonder or worry about your salvation. Stephen has a resource to help you understand that salvation is eternal. It's called Blessed Assurance. We're going to email you this resource as our gift today when you request it. Simply visit wisdomonline.org forward slash assurance and you'll be right at the page that you need. Do that now, then join us next time for the conclusion to this message here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-23 00:53:58 / 2023-03-23 01:03:42 / 10

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