But our God is in control. Furthermore, your prince is on his way and he will come.
Right? He's closer than you think. He cares about you. You're on his mind.
He even now is praying for you. So hang on. Hang on to your principle. Hang on to your character. Hang on to purity. Hang on to the ways of God.
And keep looking up. Your prince is coming soon. It may be that the fairy tale ending you had dreamed for your life has not been realized.
Instead, maybe you're struggling with trials and difficulties and hardships. You're going to find help and hope today from God's Word. In today's message, Stephen brings the encouraging truth from God's Word that the prince is coming. And when he does, he will set everything right. Everything that's wrong about your life will be made whole. This is wisdom for the heart. Yesterday, Stephen began a message called When Fairy Tales Have the Wrong Ending.
After a little review, he'll conclude that lesson. How do you follow through with biblical commands when obedience to those commands bring discomfort? They make life worse.
They seem to make the end even more awry than it was earlier. We'd like to believe that whenever you do the right thing, good things happen. God pays off.
He pays every weekend. You don't have to wait long. You do the right thing, good things happen.
But they don't do that. An illustration of this, I was over there at Crossroads Chaos trying to get out of a parking lot and into a lane of traffic that had stopped at the red light. You're at the mercy of the drivers in that line because by the time that line empties out as light turns green, the lights turn red again and it fills up again. And so I was sitting there and there was a lady directly across from me and there was just enough room in front of her that I believed I could get out, but I needed to wait. And sure enough, she saw me and she waved and smiled and said, come on. And she put her, I needed a few more inches. She put her SUV in reverse and backed into the car behind her. It was a brand new Jaguar.
And people that drive Jaguars are picky about their cars, you know, dents and things like that. I knew this was going to be bad. I felt so badly for this woman. She had been kind. She had been polite. She'd done a nice thing. And it made her life worse. Ladies and gentlemen, ultimately, our motive in doing the right thing. And we need to rehearse this again and again. It's not so that good things will happen, but so that God will be glorified.
Right? So that God will be glorified. Let your light so shine before men that they may see the good things you do and give you a raise.
Oh, I'm sorry, that's the reverse version. No, and give you an A for attitude. Put you on the first string because you're so cheerful. No, they may see the good things you do and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Listen, if counselors and counsel does not ultimately point us away from ourselves and toward the glory and honoring of God, chances are we just might be following nothing less than self-serving, self-promoting, comfort-seeking, ultimately compromise-allowing, self-assuring counsel.
And the premise is whatever makes you feel better, you do it. Don't worry about God. And so this is the Council of Eliphaz.
How can we get this thing figured out? As far as I can tell, the wicked are in pain all their lives. Verse 20, it's the wicked that are in pain. Verse 22, they're the ones riddled with anxiety. Verse 23, they are terrified of death. Verse 25, though they regard themselves as invincible. Verse 28, their wealth won't last.
It's going to run out. They're going to lose everything. Verse 30, they will not leave an inheritance, a legacy. Verse 31, 32 and 33, and their doom is certain, convinced of it.
Verses 34 and 35. Now, Eliphaz in that long list is obviously talking about Job. He barely camouflages his condemnation.
He doesn't really care. In his view and the view of the others, everything that has happened to Job is proof that he has departed from God's script. That's why he's getting the ending he's getting. So here it is, Job. Bad people don't enjoy the fairytale.
Good people live happily ever after. No wonder Job responds and I kind of see him putting his head in his hands. Chapter 16, Job answered, verse 1, verse 2, I have heard, I've heard such things.
Oh, I've heard more than I want to hear. Sorry, comforters are you all. Sorry. The word can be rendered burdensome. You do nothing more than place a greater burden on my shoulders.
I'm in the pit and you step on my shoulders. He says in verse four, I too could speak like you if I were in your place. In other words, I could come up with this stuff if we exchanged places. He says, I could compose words against you and shake my head at you.
I can do that. Let's just trade, he implies. Let's see if you can take what you're dishing out. You climb into this hospital bed. You take my place in the unemployment line. Let's exchange bank accounts.
Give me your cash and you go to bankruptcy court on Monday morning. And then let's hear how quickly you quote the verses. One author said that sometimes we have to experience unsympathetic friends in order to learn how to minister to others.
If that's true, Job is going to be a first class counselor when we get to the end of the book. For now, he's not sure he's going to make it up out of the pit. He laments in verse six of this chapter, if I could speak, my pain is not lessened.
If I hold back, I'm left with nothing. It's his emotional pain. He speaks of his physical state. Verse seven, God has exhausted me. I'm absolutely worn out socially. I'm a desolate island. Verse seven, the latter part, you you've laid waste all my company. There's nobody around me.
Really? Spiritually, over in Chapter 17, he says, I'm at my wit's end. He says, my spirit, verse one, is broken. My days are extinguished.
The grave is ready for me. In other words, there's no way out. Every time every time one of these counselors speaks, it just sort of lowers Job closer to the grave and leaves him without hope.
But back to this issue, C.S. Lewis in his book A Grief Observed wrote about his own struggle after the death of his wife. And he writes with the same kind of openness and candor that Job speaks with. He says this.
This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. He's talking about the Christian life. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing him, you will be welcomed with open arms or so it feels.
But go to him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain. And what do you find? A door slammed in your face, a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. And after that, silence. Have you ever experienced that? That's the kind of thing you don't admit to at a prayer meeting. But the silence of God. As we watch the purposes of God unfold, we discover rich truths that come out of his suffering with God's silence.
Somebody said it this way. Those who suffer acutely tend to see clearly. Job sees some things very clearly. And you found that to be true in your own life, haven't you? At the time of your greatest desperation, your mind has been most open and hungry for the Word of God. At the time of your greatest, most difficult hour, your heart has been most tender to the Spirit of God. Your life more available to the will of God than ever before. This is the sweetness of sorrow. This is the fruit that comes out of suffering.
And what sweet fruit he has. He's already said one thing that I was amazed about, and I want to go back and comment it again. Chapter 13, verse 15, you remember he says this incredible resolution, even though he slays me, yet I will trust him. Can you imagine that kind of resolve?
I'm going to point to another one or two here in a moment. But I was reading an article written by Jill Briscoe, the wife of Stuart Briscoe, who pastored for many years since retired. She was retelling the story of David, their elementary school son. Evidently, he's going to be taken to the doctor for an appointment. And he was told by his father, Stuart, in sort of classic father cryptic, that you have a doctor's appointment on Monday, so you're not going to go to school and you're going to be given an X-ray. That was it. That was the length of the conversation.
That was on Friday. On Monday, she wrote, David got into the car, his face white and drawn, his eyes filled with fear. And Stuart said, David, you're not afraid, are you? And he said, of course, Daddy, I'm afraid.
Why? Little David responded, because I know what an execution is. And she then wrote, the amazing thing was that he actually got in the car. He thought he was going to die.
Why did he get in? Because he trusted his father. With that kind of childlike faith and that kind of grown up resolve, Job is willing to stay on the path. And I think part of his resolve is fueled by his clear conscience. Go back to chapter 16 and verse 17.
He says, my face is flushed from weeping and dark circles are around my eyes. And there is, however, no violence in my hands and my prayer is pure. My prayer is pure. My conscience is clean.
It's clean. And he comes out with another amazing statement of resolve in chapter 17, verse nine. You ought to circle the word nevertheless sitting. It implies a transition based on all that he said. Nevertheless, that is in spite of everything. Nevertheless, the righteous, and he's referring to himself, will hold to his way.
And he who has clean hands will grow stronger. That's another way of saying I am holding on to my character. I'm going to hold on to principle. I'm not going to cash in my faith. I'm going to hang on to the path as I know it, even though it doesn't seem to be working out very well.
I'm going to stay to it. And for those of you who identify with Job, maybe it's your presence here that make that kind of statement. Just showing up is a statement of your faith and resolve. You have come here and your coming delivers the statement that you are going to hang on.
And like Job, you're also going to look up. Notice verse 19 back in chapter 16. Even now, behold, I love this statement. My witness is in heaven and my advocate is on high. My witness is up there in the heavens, he says, and I do have an advocate on high. It doesn't seem like he's my advocate, but I am convinced that my conscience is clean and the altar is fresh. Sacrifices have been made.
I have followed the path of God. And when I stand before him, I believe that he will step forward as my advocate. We know by way of further revelation what he did not know that our advocate has a name. His name is what? Jesus Christ, whoever lives to intercede for his children.
Imagine that Jesus Christ, Job clung to it. We know it. We're told directly is praying for you and me. He's praying for you and me. The great missionary and Pastor Robert Murray McShane, who died, I believe, in his 29th year, he once wrote this, if I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies.
Yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me. The writer of Hebrews combines the ideas of holding on and looking up when he writes, therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested on all things as we have been. Yet without sin, therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace so that we may find mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Paul challenged Titus to hold fast to the faithful word, which is in accordance to the apostles teaching that is sound doctrine.
Titus chapter one, verse nine. In other words, Satan will knock you off. If he can, he cannot destroy your soul, but he will discredit your life.
He will destroy your joy. He will take your testimony. Hold fast to your confession before God and keep looking up.
Now, I've got to mention this, and this is an entirely different study, and I'm not going to do it in the future. So let me at least reference several items that appear in chapters 16 and 17. To me, as I've read these chapters over and over again, I can't close without delivering it to you. As I read them, I had the unmistakable fragrance of Good Friday, chapter 16, verse 10. They've gaped at me with their mouth. They've slapped me on the cheek with contempt.
They've masked themselves against me. God hands me over to ruffians and tosses me into the hands of the wicked. See the crucifixion there? Chapter 17, verse two. Surely mockers are before me and my eye gazes on their provocation.
I can hear the crowd screaming that he saved himself, but he stayed up there so he could save us. There is the hint at Judas' betrayal in verse five of chapter 17. He who informs against friends for a share of the spoil. Here's our Lord before his own people in verse six. He has made me a byword of the people, and I am one at whom men spit. You remember them spitting at our Lord?
Literally, in whose face people spit. Job had no idea that his suffering mirrored in a way the suffering of Christ. He also knew very little about the fact that Christ's victory would liberate him from paradise and take him to heaven.
And so he will do with you who believe in his suffering and dying, resurrecting, ascending, interceding work. Before we leave this episode in Job's life, let me draw from this event several words. For those of you who are undergoing criticism, maybe you feel as Job did that this was unjust, unwarranted, filled with condemnation and sarcasm and all of that.
Maybe you identify in part. For those of you who are criticized, first of all, remain open. There may be truth buried underneath even unkind words and harsh actions. Learn from them if you can.
Grow from them. Number two, stay alert. Don't buy into personal criticism just because somebody is giving it to you half off to sail.
Doesn't mean you have to buy it. There is a reason that Satan is called the accuser of the brethren. Third, stay focused. Don't get sidetracked. Job held on to the anchor of his hope. The devil will just as readily distract you as he will destroy you. Remain open, keep alert and stay focused. A word to those of you who give comfort.
It should be to all of us, I hope. This episode between Eliphaz and Job is a good reminder, as Warren Wiersbe wrote in his little commentary, that comfort is not dispensed in convenient doses like cough medicine. It isn't perfectly measured out and your patients don't show up at a point in time.
They come unannounced. It's tiring work. It's giving.
We are truly, I believe, surrounded by people who silently, desperately need an encouraging word, even here today. My mother-in-law began dialysis treatments three afternoons a week, Monday, Friday. Hooked up to a machine for four hours. I picked her up from the clinic and she was telling me about all the people to go to this clinic just off Highway 64 across from McGregor Downs. Didn't know it was there. Didn't know about this subculture of suffering, frankly.
Maybe you did. I was taking her home one afternoon and she was telling me about all the people who come into that clinic to get hooked up to those machines. All ages, all sizes, all races, all different kinds of personalities. There's the 85-year-old who waves at everybody. There's the young couple where the husband's just begun treatment. There's the 16-year-old young man who comes in chipper attitude with those around him hooked up to the dialysis machines three to four hours at a time every Monday, Wednesday, Friday afternoon.
He's there. And I can't help but wonder, who knows? Who knows at his school what students know why he doesn't try it for a sports team? Why he never seems to be hanging around after school? I wonder what teachers know.
Why his schedule's adjusted so that he leaves early three days a week and he rushes out of the library on a Wednesday or a Friday. Who has any idea of this subculture of sufferers? This is one of a thousand worlds that people live in day in and day out. And frankly, I believe we would be shocked with the multitude of the variety of suffering represented by this congregation. But let me say grace, that's why it's always needed.
It's why comfort is always welcome. You have no idea. That handshake, that hello, that hug might be the only demonstration somebody is going to get between now and next Lord's Day. So how'd you do? Are you dispensing it to those around you?
It may be all they get. That kid doesn't know what it means when he came up and he hugged my kneecaps, looked up at me and he said, I prayed for you yesterday. He's five years old. Never saw him before. I looked at his mother who was standing there, I wanted verification.
She said, it's true. He just prayed for you. I'm not the only one that needs prayer. Every one of you do too. When's the last time you did?
And when's the last time you've told somebody? Let's not forget that God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters. In fact, he doesn't really give us comfort.
He loans it to us and he expects us to distribute it to others. And the comfort which we have received from him, we are then thereby able to comfort others. Let me give one closing word and then we'll wrap it up to those who need comfort. You've sat through this discussion and you've identified with Job. I want to leave you with this thought and I want you to listen carefully.
This is not the end of your story. Things might be awry, but our God is in control. He's not on vacation playing golf. He's in control. Furthermore, your prince is on his way and he will come, right?
He's closer than you think. He cares about you. You're on his mind. He even now is praying for you. So hang on, hang on to your principle, hang on to your character, hang on to purity, hang on to the ways of God and keep looking up.
Your prince is coming soon. And you know how I know that? Because this book is not a fairy tale. It's the truth. God's word is the truth and I hope the truth of scripture has encouraged you today.
You may not be struggling in the same way Job did, but the trials you face are just as real, just as distressing and just as discouraging. It's my prayer that God will use the message you just heard to encourage you today. You've tuned into Wisdom for the Heart. This is the Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey. Stephen is the president of Shepherds Theological Seminary in Cary, North Carolina. We've set up a website where you can learn more about our ministry or access the many resources we have available. You'll find us at wisdomonline.org. We take each of Stephen's messages and post them to that website so you'll find the complete archive of all his teaching. Those are available as audio files that you can listen to or as written manuscripts that you can read.
That message archive is available free of charge for you to access anytime. Stephen's also the author of many books and commentaries and you'll find all of those in the resource section of that website as well. Once again, that address is wisdomonline.org and we have a free resource for you today. Has it ever occurred to you that according to eyewitness accounts, Jesus never attended a funeral that he didn't entirely interrupt? Every time Jesus went to a funeral, the dead came back to life. Jesus has the power over death. The exciting news is that Jesus offers his resurrection power to you. Stephen's resource called Resurrection Power will deepen your appreciation for what Jesus has done for you in offering you eternal life. Receive a free copy of this resource today at wisdomonline.org forward slash resurrection. Get your copy today then join us next time on Wisdom for the Heart.
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