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Hitting Rock Bottom, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 24, 2023 12:00 am

Hitting Rock Bottom, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 24, 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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B.B. Warfield, an old theologian who's been in heaven for some time now, commented on that passage saying these words, In these moments our Lord experienced the ultimate depths of human anguish and vindicated by the intensity of his mental sufferings, the right to be called the man of sorrows. How's that for a name? The man of sorrows, acquainted with the language and vocabulary and experiences of grief. Jesus Christ was the man of sorrows, and he knows from first-hand experience how to relate to us when we face dark times of doubt and despair. In the Old Testament, Job certainly faced those periods.

Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen Davey takes you to a passage from Job's life that's commonly referred to as Job's Lament. You're going to learn four principles for dealing with despair. Accept only God's thoughts.

Refuse counsel that doubts God's sovereignty. Remember you're not the first believer to suffer, and give God what energy you have to bring hope to others. I found it interesting that I, 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. Johnny Erikson 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 eight 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 believed 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 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 him and 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 and 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 the light given to him who suffers?

Light is a reference or a 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. 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 Erickson Tada 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 that'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. The 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.

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 any more 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 or 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. Guard it 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 is really like. 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, reject it, 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, get 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.

Can I speak even more practically for a few moments? Some of you are watching television that is only adding to your misery. You know what? You watch two or three hours and at the end of it, you feel worse than you did when you started watching it. You thought it'd be good to just sort of turn the brain off and watch it, but you're more depressed afterward than before, right?

I mean, if you're struggling with financial problems, don't sit down and watch the National Poker Championships, as if there's ever a good time to watch them, but that would not be the right time to watch them. If you're confused about life, stop buying the tabloids. Those people are more confused than you will ever be. Don't read that stuff.

If you're wrestling with issues with your spouse and your marriage, don't go to EHarmony's website and read the testimonials of people who found the perfect person. They're all saying, you know, I found someone just like me. Since when is that a good thing?

Why would that be a good thing? You find someone just like you, you've only doubled your problems. That's all. If you're struggling with thoughts and bitterness and resentment, a lot of times it happens in the car, doesn't it?

It's when you have 15, 20 minutes to just let it build. Listen to Christian music. Let that wash over your soul. I made a decision in college to, for the most part, listen only to sacred music. Now the tunes that I like to dance around in my mind provide comfort and counsel and hope. Let me just add to that, cultivate a deeper love and taste for sacred things.

Even before you hit rock bottom, you're headed there at some point in life. There are pits along the way and you need that book to pull off the shelf to read. It's ready. It's waiting for you.

Those CDs, you need to have them in the car. You need to be prepared then and there to pop one in and let it bathe your mind with hope. Cultivate a taste for sacred substance. Number four, remember you're not the first believer to suffer such grief that you want to be left alone. You're not alone. Through the course of this study, it has been so moving to me to hear stories of people in this assembly who sit around you.

Maybe you're one of them who understands the language of Job. And I had a guy come after the second service just a few moments before the service started. I was visiting with those who were visiting our church and he waited until the end and he came up and he said, Steven, I've been coming here a year. I don't know what you look like. And he stepped real close to me and he said, this man's probably 35 years old.

He says I have an eye disease and I can't see anything past there and there's nothing they can do for me. And I don't know what you look like. And I wanted to see. And I thought it's scary, isn't it? If you don't come back, we'll know why now. And that's something. We shook hands and parted.

You're not alone. In fact, beyond one another, we have a brother, one of our brethren, Hebrews 2 17, called Christ, who was made like us in every way. He of whom it is written was deeply distressed and troubled, overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of dying. Mark 14.

B. B. Warfield, an old theologian who's been in heaven for some time now commented on that by passage saying these words, in these moments, our Lord experienced the ultimate depths of human anguish and vindicated by the intensity of his mental sufferings, the right to be called the man of sorrows. How's that for a name? The man of sorrows, acquainted with the language and vocabulary and experiences of grief. Number five, give what little energy you have to something that brings help and hope to others.

Whatever you muster, whatever you can, give it to someone else. And that often brings great hope and healing. I've referred already several times to Joni Eareckson Tada. Some of her story is recorded in a book that I have been reading, edited by Jon Piper and Justin Taylor, entitled Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.

In fact, Joni provides chapter nine. And although I apologize for reading so much of it, I want to give it to you because I think it's such a powerful illustration. Trapped face down, staring at the floor hour after hour, my thoughts grew dark and hopeless. All I could think was, God, I prayed for a closer walk with you. If this is your idea of an answer to prayer, I am never going to trust you with another prayer again. I can't believe I have to lie face down and do nothing but count the tiles on the floor of this torture rack.

I hate my existence. I have asked the hospital staff to turn out the lights, close the blinds, and shut the door. Sound familiar? She writes how a friend came and listened to her rant and rave and cry. In fact, she shared tears with her and just was there in the room listening, sharing it with her. And then after some time, her friend put a Bible on a little stool and squeaked it under the bed where Joni was facing, just a couple of feet from the floor, and opened it to Psalm chapter 18. And just let her read, in my distress, I called upon the Lord and cried to my God for help. Well, it was quite a long journey for her. Of course, you know as well as I do friends, many of you do, that Joni is determined now to provide an estimated 18 million wheelchairs to the disabled of our world, along with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

My wife and I have had a chance to meet her. What a remarkable servant of God. She goes on in that chapter to write, not too long ago, I got an email from a woman named Beverly who wrote, Dear Joni, I am out of hope, but I'm wondering if you might be able to help my husband, Ron, he's a pastor. He was in an accident last year that left him a quadriplegic. For some time he continued to work, but now he's resigned. He no longer wants to get out of bed. He doesn't talk and he doesn't want the lights on in his room. He doesn't seem to care about our family anymore.

We all seem to be falling through the cracks. My husband feels useless and hopeless. We need help. I responded by calling information and tracking down Ron and Beverly and I gave him a call. Beverly answered and after some time of sharing and praying with her, I asked if I could talk to Ron.

She knocked on his door and he actually let her tuck the phone under his ear. He would not respond. I talked a little bit of shop about quadriplegia. I wanted to move beyond those 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 the 18th verse of Romans chapter 8, for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Silence on the other end. I even sang to him.

Nothing. Finally, I did the only thing I could think of doing, which for some reason came to my mind. I asked Ron if he had ever seen a movie called The Shawshank Redemption. Why, yes, I have, he said. She said I was shocked for the first time he responded.

I was so happy. Well, Ron, do you remember when Red found Andy's letter? Do you remember what it said?

I think so. Hope is a good thing and no good thing ever dies. She said, you're right, Ron, there are ten thousand other quadriplegics like you and me in 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.

Will you join me today? And he said, yes, ma'am, I will. It was the words of one who understood his language that reached him. He'd hit rock bottom, but he would begin to surface with hope.

He decided that day to get busy with living. Last she heard, Ron and Beverly are active and sharing their testimony to anyone and everyone. And he's back to preaching far and near. Accept only those thoughts about God that are clearly supported by scripture. Refuse the counsel of others, including your own personal feelings that doubt the sovereign plan of God. Cultivate a deeper love and taste for sacred substance. Remember, you're not the first believer to suffer such grief that you wanted to be left alone with the lights out.

And then give what little energy you have to something or someone that brings help and hope to others. And remember, Job, would you? James told the church to remember Job. I think that's fascinating and ironic because he thought he was forgotten.

Not only did he think that he was no longer in the full view of God, but he was. But it struck me that that that he will be remembered by millions of Christians throughout the dispensations of human history. For somebody to come up and say to you, you know what? I watched you and I want you to know you encouraged me.

Isn't that a wonderful thing? Imagine one day millions of people who meet this man will say, oh, I remembered you in the most difficult period of my life when I hit rock bottom there in the pit. I remembered you. I discovered in you a true hero of the faith, even though there was chapter three in your life.

And I began to live and get busy with living. And in your living, Lord, I found hope. That was Steven Davey and he called this message Hitting Rock Bottom. To listen again or to share it with someone who's suffering, visit wisdom online dot org. We put each day's lesson on the home page of our website. So if you go there today, you'll find this lesson right there on our home page at wisdom online dot org. Before we leave you today, I want to remind you of a resource we're offering you this month. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who doubted their salvation and you wished you had a resource to share with them?

We can help you. The belief that you can lose your salvation is an error into which many Christians fall. Instead of living fruitful lives of joy and service to God, they live fretful lives, continually worrying about their relationship with God. The simple remedy is found in the pages of God's word.

You need to understand this truth. Salvation is not a temporary flame. It's an eternal fire that never dies.

Though it may waver in the winds of doubt, it will never be put out. Steven's resource on this topic is entitled Blessed Assurance. We're going to email it to you upon request. When you get to our website, you'll see the link right there. Visit wisdom online dot org right now to request your copy of Blessed Assurance. Then join us back here next time to be encouraged with more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-24 01:25:30 / 2023-03-24 01:35:05 / 10

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