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Suffering and God's Presence

The Gospel Project  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God is present and in cortrol of our suffering and uses is for good

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Introduction
As we continue in the Gospel Project today we are going to spend one week learning from an overview of the book of Job. This is a lot to cover in just one week, 42 chapters actually, so I started to wonder if there was any way to break this down in such a way that we could quickly get to the main point. I don’t know anyone who does this better than a ministry initiate called The Bible Project. This ministry began when two guys, a Biblical scholar and a graphic artist got together to share their belief that the whole Bible is one story that points to Jesus in a way that current generations can understand. Anyway, I thought that a great way to introduce this weeks text would be to let them tell it in their very Biblical and creative way. So check out Job from The Bible Project.
This week we are going to cover the entire book of Job in just one week.
And the crazy thing is that it is not a short book. It is not like 2 John which is just one chapter 12 verses long. Job is 42 chapters long and somehow we are going to handle it in just one week.
Obviously, we are going to cover all of the book this week, but we are going to look at the main point of the entire book. While there are many smaller themes throughout the book, there is one major theme that clearly jumps out at us. This is a very unique feature of the book of Job and it is why we can cover it in just one week.
Most of us are familiar with the basic storyline of Job and how he endured sufferingObviously, we are not going to cover all 42 chapters in just one week, but we are going to take a look at the main point of the book, which is What does our suffering say about who God is. .
theas their are many smaller themes throughout the book, but the book of Job is uniqu of the book of Genesis The book of Job is such a unique book in several different ways. One of the most striking is that we know very little about the background of the book. We don’t really even know when it was written or by who or what the setting of the storyline is. All of this seems to be very intentional. It is almost like God doesn’t want us to pack this story into the pages of history and just take out some key principles that we like.
Another fascinating feature of this bok theas their are many smaller themes throughout the book, but the book of Job is uniqu of the book of Genesis The book of Job is such a unique book in several different ways. One of the most striking is that we know very little about the background of the book. We don’t really even know when it was written or by who or what the setting of the storyline is. All of this seems to be very intentional. It is almost like God doesn’t want us to pack this story into the pages of history and just take out some key principles that we like.
One of it’s unique features is in how little we know about the background of the book. We don’t know who wrote it. We don’t know when it was written. We don’t know when this story of Job took place. All of this seems to be very intentional.
It is almost like God doesn’t want us isolate this story to a particular time frame or a particular people group because the main point applies to everyone who has ever lived in every time period. So that even while looking at it from a fly over view, wecan make connections between this story and our story.
Now I could lay out a verbal out line of the story for you all, but I thought that this morning might be a good time to introduce you to a ministry that has really been a blessing to me. It is something called “The Bible Project” and it is a ministry initiative taken on by two guys, a Biblical Scholar and a graphic artist. in an attempt to reach out to the current generations, they have created a series of short films covering the major themes of every book in the Bible. Particularly they are guided by the belief that every part of the Bible points to Jesus. I found that their film on Job was very compelling and I thought it might help us to begin uncovering the main point of the book of Job this morning. So sit back and relax as they present for us the 42 chapters of Job in just 6 short minutes.
So sit back and relax as they present for us the 42 chapters of Job in just 6 short minutes.
The Bible Project: Job
Tension
Tension
And that is the story of Job, 42 chapters condensed down into 6 minutes that aims us right at our one big question:
What does our suffering say about who God is?
This is important to us because every person who has ever lived has experienced suffering to some degree or another. Maybe it was something that happened to them. Maybe it was something that happened to a loved one of theirs. Maybe it was the result of something that they did. Maybe it was result of something that someone else did to them, but every person who has ever lived has encountered suffering. That is what makes the story of Job so universal.
Every person who has ever lived has experienced suffering to some degree or another. Maybe it was something that happened to them. Maybe it was something that happened to a loved one of theirs. Maybe it was the result of something that they did. Maybe it was result of something that someone else did to them, but every person who has ever lived has encountered suffering. What do we do with that, in light of the fact that we have a God who loves us? How do we explain or make sense of our suffering when we are living in a loving relationship with an all powerful, all knowing, ever present loving God?
What do we do with that? How do we justify the presence of suffering in our world along side of the presence of our all power, all knowing and all loving God? In other words, since there is nothing that God cannot do, why doesn’t he doing something to stop our suffering?
What do we do with that, in light of the fact that we have a God who loves us? How do we explain or make sense of our suffering when we are living in a loving relationship with an all powerful, all knowing, ever present loving God?
And we can’t just tackle these questions intellectually or theologically because they affect us very personally. How can we still believe all these things are true about God when someone comes up to us and says, “I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell you but...” That sentence never ends well:
The diagnosis is cancer
“I’m sorry... but we have eliminated your position in the company”
“I’m sorry... but the test came back positive for cancer”
“I’m sorry... but we can no longer service your mortgage so are foreclosing on your property”
“I “
the test came back positive for cancer” or “
“I’m sorry... but your baby didn’t make it”
The truth is that if you were to poll any group of self-proclaimed atheists or agnostics on why they don’t believe in God this would be one the top responses. I just can’t reconcile the idea of a loving and present God with the suffering that I have seen.
What is the role of this all powerful and loving God when our world gets turned upside down in ways like this. How can a wise and just God be present amidst all of this suffering. This is not just a “theoredical or theological question”. If you were to poll any group of so called athiests or agnostics on why they don’t believe in God this would be your top response. I just can’t reconcile a loving and present God with the suffering that I have seen.
And I would like to tell you that all you have to do is throw the book of Job at them and they would have the answers that they seek, but that is not where the book of Job leads us.
The story of Job does give us some very important answers, but they are answers to questions that suffering people don’t typically ask. Still they might be the answers that they need the most.
If you haven’t already, open your Bibles up to the beginning of the book of Job, (p. 417) I’ll pray and we will get started.
Truth

Job 1:1 ESV
1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.
Wow, what an introduction! How you would like something like that to be said of you? And understand, Job was a real person. It is tempting if you read through all the deep poetry here to think that Job was just a character in a illustrative story, but in several places throughout Scripture Job is pointed to as an example for us. He is always treated as a real person that you or I could be like.
And understand, Job was a real person. It is tempting if you read through all the deep poetry here to think that Job was just a character in a principled story, but several places throughout Scripture Job is pointed to as an example for us. He is always treated as a real person that you or I could be like.
I do wonder though, in the times in our lives when we have been tempted to compare our story of Job, do we remember what was said of Job in the beginning, or are we just willing to compare the suffering part?
At times in our lives we might be tempted to think that our story is very similar to Job’s. When we think that, however, it is usually just the suffering part. I wonder how many of us would also claim this introduction to the book as well.
We also might have a hard time relating to the following descriptions of Job’s life:
Job 1:2–3 ESV
2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.
This verse gives us one of the only clues to the time frame of the story because Job’s wealth is described here not in relation to how much gold he has but how many cattle he owned. It probably means that his story is set somewhere in the Patriarchal time period but we can’t be sure.
The truth is that each one of us is wealthy when compared the World as a whole. If you were to go to globalrichlist.com you can find how wealthy you are in comparison to the rest of the world. I found that even more than being in the top 1%, I was in the top .35%. I can share that with you because you all know how much I make, but if you want to get a new perspective on how blessed you are then you can check out this website as well.
But Job wasn’t just weathly in the global sense, he was the wealthiest man in his community. He was not just comparatively wealthy, he was known to be a wealthy man. And as wealthy families sometimes do, his children had more discretionary time than most and they were prone to get a little wild on the weekends, but Job made sure that they stayed right with God.
And as wealthy families sometimes do, his children were prone to get a little wild, but Job made sure that they stayed right with God.
What we do know is that Job was very wealthy, and as wealthy families sometimes do, his children had more discretionary time on their hands and they were prone to get a little wild on the weekends, but Job made sure that they stayed right with God.
Job 1:4–5 ESV
4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
Here we see the kind of Father that Job was. Job was a loving father who not only provided for his children’s physical needs, but their spiritual needs as well. When they had a party, Job was concerned that their might have been something that they did that dishonored God and he brought them in, probably to question them, and then made whatever ceremonial sacrifices were necessary. In this we see that he was leading his family well, showing his children how being right with God was an important part of enjoying His blessings.
Job 1:2–5 ESV
2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
So basically we find that Job is just an all around great guy. Even God thinks so, and He says so. In the next verses we are transported into the heavenly realms to get a glimpse of a scene that is way beyond us.
As this drama unfolds there is a deliberate scene change as we are transported into a world that we don’t belong.
is this scene change where we leave the realm of earth and enter into the very throne room of God.
Job 1:6–8 ESV
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
God is the one who brings up the subject of his servant Job to Satan. Satan was not there that day to ask God for permission to attack Job, God in his wisdom and providence points Satan towards his servant Job. The truth is that...

God is in control, even over our suffering ()

Job 1:
Things didn’t get out of hand. God wasn’t like, Whoa I didn’t see that coming. God initiates this whole event with his pointing to his servant Job, knowing that Satan would respond. And he does...
Job 1:9–12 ESV
9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Job 1:6–12 ESV
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Job 1:
Did you see how God sets the boundaries for Satan. At this point, Satan cannot touch Job personally but he can do what he will with Job’s possessions. And so Satan did what Satan does: steal kill and destroy. And God for His purposes allow him to do it. God is still in control, even in Job’s suffering, and great suffering did come.
One after another, Job lives the dreaded, “I hate to be the one to tell you this...” scene:
Job 1:13–19 ESV
13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Typically, when someone says that they feel like they are suffering like Job, this is the idea that they are trying to get across. Not just that one thing bad happened, but that a host of bad things happened at the same time. You feel like you weren’t even given enough time to fully understand one thing when another wave hits, and then another, and another and another. It’s like getting caught in a rip tide of suffering and you can’t even get up to grab a breath before the next one crashes down on you.
How do you respond to something like that? Everything comes crashing down all at once and there was no warning. I know how I would respond: All the questions of desperation would come pouring out:
Why is this happening to me?
What did I do to deserve this?
Where is God in all of this?
Didn’t He see this coming?
Why didn’t he do something?
And I would not be alone in that response. If you read through the book of Psalms more than 40% of them are Psalms of lament. Songs or poems that ask these very same questions, often times with great anger and frustration just like I would feel in a situation like this.
But what does the righteous and blamesless Job do?
Job 1:20–21 ESV
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Job 1:20 ESV
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.
There is something uniquely powerful when God’s children worship him in times of suffering. To be able to lift your head above the pain of your present circumstances to recognize the greatness of God is something profoundly Christian. To declare that God is good even when life is hard shows such a deep level of the understanding of the role of God in ones life that we can see here how Job would be described by God as “blameless and righteous”.
I get the tearing the clothes and ripping out you hair but I get stopped up at the worship. In this moment Job worshiped God. Even in his pain, He recognized the value and worth of the God who had blessed him in the past and he made much of him.
Job 1:
Job 1:20–21 ESV
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Job 1:21 ESV
21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Job 3:1–10 ESV
1 After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. 2 And Job said: 3 “Let the day perish on which I was born, and the night that said, ‘A man is conceived.’ 4 Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, nor light shine upon it. 5 Let gloom and deep darkness claim it. Let clouds dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it. 6 That night—let thick darkness seize it! Let it not rejoice among the days of the year; let it not come into the number of the months. 7 Behold, let that night be barren; let no joyful cry enter it. 8 Let those curse it who curse the day, who are ready to rouse up Leviathan. 9 Let the stars of its dawn be dark; let it hope for light, but have none, nor see the eyelids of the morning, 10 because it did not shut the doors of my mother’s womb, nor hide trouble from my eyes.
Job recognized that:

God is in control, even over our suffering

God is in control, even over our suffering ()

Then on the heals of Job’s powerful worship we are brought back into the heavenly courtroom where we find the same thing unfolding again. It is virtually a word for word repeat except that God is now bragging on Job despite what Satan has already thrown at him. So What excuse does Satan have then but to blame the one area that God held back from him.
What excuse does Satan have then but to blame the one area that God held back from him.
Job 2:4 ESV
4 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life.
God kept Satan from harming Job himself, so this time God allows back the the heavenly backdrop and experience almost an identical scene. The Sons of God are back reporting for duty, God asks Satan where he’s been, I’ve been around, and God goes on an bragging on his servant Job. While last time Satan questioned Job’s intentions because of God’s blessings, this time Satan goes after the one exception clause that God gave him.
And so God allows him to attack his physical body, but he cannot take his life. So Satan strikes Job with a disease where these painful and pussy soars are found all over his body. The sores hurt and itch so bad that Job is brought to taking a piece of pottery and scraping at the sores trying to bring some level of relief, but it doesn’t come. Even his wife sees his condition and instead of showing any level of compassion she just gives up for him and tells him to get it over with, just curse God and die already.
Job 2:4 ESV
4 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life.
But Job maintains his faithfulness to God an
And so God allows him to attach his body, but Satan cannot take his life. So Satan strikes Job with a horribly painful and pussy disease where there is no clean skin on his whole body. The soares hurt and itch so bad that Job is brought to taking a piece of pottery and scraping at the soares trying to bring relief, but it doesn’t come. Even his wife becomes angry with him, she just tells him to get it over with, just curse God and die already this is too much for anyone.
Job 2:10 ESV
10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Job 2:1–10 ESV
1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 3 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” 4 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Job
Job 1:13–2:10 ESV
13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. 1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 3 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” 4 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
How much do we agree with Job’s theology here?
The common wisdom of Job’s day was not far from the way many of us think today. Sure, we might say that blessings are “gifts” from God but at the end of the day, do we really believe this? When those “gifts” are no longer available to us, do we respond like Job does here or do we question what we did or didn’t do to have this happen to us. We are doing all the right things and then God allows this. That is not fair, we don’t deserve this…but the question that we have to ask is did we deserve it before? If we got the blessing because we deserved it then was it really ever a gift?
Job’s response to his wife is that since God is in control we should know that when blessings comes our way it is because in His wisdom, God chose to bless us with a gift. Job, however, seems just as accepting of the flip side of this, that when evil comes our way it is also because in His wisdom, God chose to allow it. Job recognizes that
Job’s response to his wife is that since God is in control we should know that when blessings comes our way it is because in His wisdom, God chose to bless us with a gift. Job, however, seems just as accepting of the flip side of this, that when evil comes our way it is also because in His wisdom, God chose to allow it. Job recognizes that
He is saying that since God in control we should know that when blessings comes our way it is because He believed it to be wise to bless us. We would probably all agree with this, but Job offers the flip side as well. If we truly recognize that God is in control of all things then we have to accept that when evil comes our way, it was because God allowed it.
Job 1:1–2:10 ESV
1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually. 6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. 13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. 1 Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 3 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” 4 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. 5 But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” 6 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

God is in control, even over our suffering ()

It is at this point that we have the beginning of the largest section of the book of Job. Job’s friends arrive on the scene, there are three at first, but later a young buck name Elihu patiently waits his turn and then finally offers his perspective.
If you have your Bible open then just start flipping pages forward and you will find that for the next 34 pages there is this deep poetic conversation that happens between Job and these friends. So many different topics are brought out and then argued as these friends go back and forth with Job offering him the best that the ancient world had to offer for answers to his questions, but Job accepts none of their arguments.
It is important to remember that even though the author has given us a glimpse into both the heavenly and earthly settings of this story, Job and his friends do not have this luxery. They are in the dark about God’s conversation with Satan and what is happening there, so all they can offer is their observations of the world as they perceive it. Everything that they see says that this suffering is proof that God has abandoned Job.
It is important to remember that even though we have been given a glimpse into both the heavenly and earthly settings of this story, Job and his friends have not. They have no idea what is going on in heavenly realms and all they can offer is their observations of the world as they percieve it and everything that they see says that God has abandoned Job. We know that this is not the case but they did not.
Remember that
Job 1:1-2:
But in his best moments throughout this dialogue Job knows that this is not true. He knows that...

God is present in our suffering, even if it may not feel that way (Job 28:20-28)

And certainly it did not feel that way to Job, and he traveled back and forth in between times of clarity and strong convictions to times of doubt and great confusion. He knows that he can’t just trust his feelings in a time like this, even though his feelings are real. So he dives into his head.
And certainly it did not feel that way to Job, and he traveled back and forth in between times of clarity and strong convictions to times of doubt and great confusions. He knew that he could not trust his feelings in a time like this, but he had a hard time making sense of what he was experiencing. So he kept asking questions and searching for the right answers even as he answered his less than helpful friends.
Have you ever done this? The pain of something is so strong that you try and distract yourself from it in a quest to figure it all out. All I have to do is engage my brain enough and I can find answers to these questions that will help lessen this pain. And we start our list of question that we think we can reason our way to the answers:
While he went back and forth with
How did this happen?
Who is to blame?
Job 9:14–16 ESV
14 How then can I answer him, choosing my words with him? 15 Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him; I must appeal for mercy to my accuser. 16 If I summoned him and he answered me, I would not believe that he was listening to my voice.
Why did it happen?
How can I control the aspects of my life in such a way that I will not have to hurt like this again?
But there are not alway answers to questions like these, at least not in ways that we can understand them, from our vantage point.
but the answers were not coming. The friends were not help because their answers assumed things that Job knew was not true. guard against it in the future? like many of us who to try and make sense of things, to try and understand these things because our feelings and our actions follow after our beliefs and our beliefs are based on what we understand about our world. Everything that Job thought he understood about his world was being challenged.
Ultimately Job’s strongest conclusions came from the understanding that he had little understanding, and with what little faith that he still had he would chose to believe that God did and that would be enough. Listen to a short excerpt from one of his closing dialogues:
Ultimately his strongest conclusions came from that understanding that he had little understanding, but that he knew that God did. Listen to a short exerpt from one of his closing dialogues:
Job 9:32–35 ESV
32 For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. 33 There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both. 34 Let him take his rod away from me, and let not dread of him terrify me. 35 Then I would speak without fear of him, for I am not so in myself.
job 28:
Job 28:20–28 ESV
20 “From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? 21 It is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the air. 22 Abaddon and Death say, ‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’ 23 “God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. 24 For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. 25 When he gave to the wind its weight and apportioned the waters by measure, 26 when he made a decree for the rain and a way for the lightning of the thunder, 27 then he saw it and declared it; he established it, and searched it out. 28 And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’ ”
As Job faltered back and forth in these many dialogues, this is probably the closest that Job got to a right perspective on his suffering. God sees everything from an entirely different perspective than we do, and our only course to understand how terribly great he really is. We are so limited in time and space and wisdom yet God is infinite in all three.
In his book on The Reason for God Tim Keller says:
“With time and perspective most of us can see good reasons for at least some of the tragedy and pain that occurs in life. Why couldn’t it be possible that, from Gods vantage point, there are good reasons for all of them?”
Would we even want a God whose ways were so primitive that we could understand them all? We can’t even figure out the point of yawning! Lots of theories but nobody knows…and yet in our pain we sometimes think that we have the ability to understand when God should allow suffering and when he should intervene.
We have hit on this verse over the last two weeks and it rings just as true for today:
Why would we even want a God whose ways were all understandable to us? We can’t even figure out the point of yawning! Lots of theories but nobody knows…and we think that we have the ability to understand suffering on the level of God.
Isaiah 55:8–9 ESV
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Job and his friends had no idea what was happening in the heavens or for what purposes God was after there. We can find the same truth laid out in the New Testament in places like:
Or in the New Testament we could look at
Romans 11:33–34 ESV
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
or
1 Corinthians 2:16 ESV
16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Romans 11:34 ESV
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
Isaiah 40:13 ESV
13 Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel?

God is present in our suffering, even if it may not feel that way,

God is present in our suffering, even if it may not feel that way,

and many times it doesn’t. Finally this morning:

God uses our suffering to draw us closer to Him ()

As was so vividly portrayed in the video, the story comes to this climax where Job in essence demands that God come down and answer him. Instead of getting the answer to his questions he gets something else. He is given a better picture of who God is. God goes on for four chapters showing Job everything that is under his command and control and asks Job if he still thinks that He is worthy to demand that God answer him. Job is horribly humbled at the Lord’s response and replies
Job 40:4–5 ESV
4 “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”
Job 40:
but God keeps on going, this is where God throws in the features of these two beasts the Behemouth and the Leviathon and asks Job is he could handle these guys? Do you keep them as pets? They are so dangerous to you but they are wondrous parts of my creation. After this Job finally confesses and repents.
Job 42:1–6 ESV
1 Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ 5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
I have told many people how God is big enough to handle our questions and doubts. He is. He is not challenged by them or fearful of them. But when we realize that we have spoken wrongly against God and his character the only path back to a right relationship with is through repentance. For every relationship with God, repentance is the path to restoration.
Job did not get the answer to the many questions that he was asking, but he gained a much bigger understanding of God. That is where Job ultimately found his comfort in his suffering. He better understood how big wise and sovereign God is and any role that God played in his suffering would be good.
Gospel Application
In Job’s story, Satan set out to prove something that many of us would struggle to have an answer for today.
If everything else was taken away and all we had was our relationship with God, would that be enough to sustain our faith in Him?
Satan’s claim was that God’s relationship with mankind is not a real relationship, but just a business transaction. That God was manipulating mankind into worshiping Him, and that mankind was manipulating God into blessing them. Sadly there are still people who are believing this lie today. That a relationship with God is about what we can get from God, instead of it being simply about getting God. The story of Job teaches us that this is just not true.
Would we still trust God even if we lost everything else? Satan’s claim was that God’s relationship with men is not a real relationship, but just a business transaction. That God was manipulating men in to worshiping Him, and that men were manipulating God into blessing them. Sadly there are still people who are peddling this lie today. That if you obey God then good is guaranteed to happen to you”. There is only one way that this is true: When we have a relationship with God then we obey Him and that is good. We are promised nothing else beyond that.
if you obey God then good is guaranteed to happen to you”. There is only one way that this is true: When we have a relationship with God then we obey Him and that is good. We are promised nothing else beyond that.
And when we suffer like Job did we are allowed to go through seasons of questions and doubts, but in the end we have to remember who God is. When we are tempted to ask God “Why He isn’t doing something to stop all of our suffering?” we need to stop…and remember that He has.
Landing
In fact, the Gospel shows us that God has suffered more than we ever could imagine. God sent his only begotten Son to die on the cross for us. Why did he do it? So that we would not be left here in this sin filled broken down world of our own making. There was no suffering in the Garden of Eden and their will be no suffering in our eternal home with Jesus. It is that hope that we have to hold so tightly to in our times of suffering. That our relationship with God through the person and work of Jesus Christ means that the end of our life here on earth is the end of our experience with suffering.
In other words, there is nothing that God does not know or cannot do, so why isn’t he doing something to stop all of our suffering. He has - he gave us Jesus.
Sadly, if you don’t have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ then suffering is all that awaits you in eternity. Please don’t let that be you. Come see me or talk to someone you trust. We can’t promise you that your suffering on earth will end, it hasn’t ended for us, but we can show you where we find hope to endure.
Let’s pray
Satan was only setting out to prove something that many of us would struggle to answer today - if everything else was taken away and all we had was God would that be enough?
Landing
Needing a pastor not a theologian or apologist
Knowing God truly but never fully
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