* Where is God When Things Go Wrong \\ *Eric Schall \\ June 11, 2006
*Intro* \\ They have done survey after survey through the years about what is the one thing keeping you from following Christ, and repeatedly the answer is suffering.
This idea of suffering is one that repeatedly comes up when you talk to people about your faith.
“God loves you.”
“Well what about all the suffering in the world?” “Why did He let my grandma die a painful death through cancer?”
It seems like the world is full of suffering, and it’s on the increase.
Just recently another earthquake hit the Indonesian area and thousands are dead in the same area of the world where the tsunami hit in 2004 where hundreds of thousands of people were killed.
The genocide in the Darfur region of the Sudan continues with thousands upon thousands of people suffering and dieing.
All you have to do is watch the nightly news to get a new story about suffering in our world.
It can be overwhelming…especially when it hits home and becomes personal.
What do you do when life suddenly takes an unexpected turn?
You were counting on that job, but then at the last minute it falls through.
The doctor’s test results are back and he uses the dreaded “C” word, “I’m sorry, but it’s Cancer.”
You find a used pregnancy test that shows positive in the trash and when you confront your daughter you find out she’s pregnant.
What do you do?
You know we all have these unspoken scripts about how our lives are going to play out.
One day we’ll get married, have successful careers, have children, live in a nice house, our children will find a wonderful Christian for their spouse and have wonderful careers and wonderful children…you know how it goes.
But then life happens.
What happens when we are confronted with suffering in our lives?
And why does it seem like God is *silent* when we need Him the most?
What do we do when suffering hits?
What do we do when our marriage is crumbling around our feet?
What do we do when tragedy strikes and we lose everything?
And It seems like when we pray our words just shoot off into the stratosphere without connecting with God’s ears let alone His heart.
We feel alone…isolated…like there’s no help to be found.
We live in a world with very real problems and we need to have very real answers.
Jesus came not just to provide access to Heaven, but for His Kingdom to break through into our everyday lives.
So that when times of suffering hit us, or when things go wrong in the life of someone near us we do not have to despair, but rather we have hope to offer.
I want to look at the book of Job today.
I have to confess that for years I stayed away from the book of Job.
When things are going relatively well in your life, you find yourself avoiding this book like the plague!
It’s kind of like how when you are watching your favorite tv program and then it goes to commercial and you see the pictures of the starving children with calls for you support and you immediately turn the channel.
You know you don’t want to kill your excitement buzz just before you find out what happened to Michael’s son Walt on Lost!
This book is a reminder that things can go wrong for seemingly no reason, and it can be confusing and depressing, but life demands that we have the kind of answers that God’s inspired Word provides for us…even the difficult parts.
*Background on Job*
In Chapter One we are introduced to Job who the Bible says is a good man who honors and fears the Lord.
He is a man of tremendous wealth and influence, as well as a life filled with children and loved ones.
In the Second chapter we see Satan coming before the Lord to antagonize and bring accusation (Accuser of the Brethren).
God says have you considered Job who is a good man?
Satan begins to attack Job’s credibility saying that “of course he is good, he has nothing to fear with you blessing and protecting him all the time.”
He then asks permission to attack Job to which God responds yes, but places limits.
Why is this happening?*
When things go horribly wrong in our lives the first thing we do is look for meaning.
We ask why and in doing so, many of us come to the conclusion that we are suffering because we deserve it.
We reap what we sow; you made your bed so lie in it.
We think we deserve it, we’re being punished.
“Well my husband wouldn’t have had an affair on me if I wasn’t such a bad wife.”
“Perhaps my child wouldn’t have been hit by a drunk driver if I hadn’t driven while I was drunk in high school.”
If you embrace this type of answer then hope is choked off within you and it will lead you to despair.
And this is the type of explanation for Job’s situation that his friends come with when they come to visit him.
No one has suffered like Job except perhaps the Lord Himself.
Job lost everything.
He loses his business and all his wealth, he loses the respect of those around him and is taunted by old and young alike; He loses his health to the point where he’s in constant agony; and here his friends come with the very helpful accusation of “you have sinned”
*/Job 22:5-11 (NLT) “It is because of your wickedness!
Your guilt has no limit!
“For example, you must have lent money to your friend and then kept the clothing he gave you as a pledge.
Yes, you stripped him to the bone.
You must have refused water for the thirsty and food for the hungry.
After all, you think the land belongs to the powerful and that those who are privileged have a right to it!
You must have sent widows away without helping them and crushed the strength of orphans.
That is why you are surrounded by traps and sudden fears.
That is why you cannot see in the darkness, and waves of water cover you.”/*
There’s nothing more comforting to a person that is suffering for someone to come along and suggest that it is their own fault.
The problems with these accusations are that they are completely false!
Job was a good man, a compassionate man.
We learn this in the opening verse of Job.
*/Job 1:1 (NLT) There was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz.
He was blameless, a man of complete integrity.
He feared God and stayed away from evil./*
*/Job 1:8 (NLT) Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job?
He is the finest man in all the earth—a man of complete integrity.
He fears God and will have nothing to do with evil.”/*
God thinks Job is a good man!
The story of Job is a refute to those that think bad things always happen as a result of a person doing bad things.
The formulaic thinking that says a person is suffering because of their own wickedness.
And conversely, the person who is doing well and succeeding must be a good person…
Now the book of proverbs does offer us certain principles like in */Proverbs 10:3 (NIV) “The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.”/*
And */Proverbs 14:11 (NIV) “The house of the wicked will be destroyed, but the tent of the upright will flourish.”
/* These are general principles in life.
Yes we do often reap what we sew…if you smoke 2 pack of cigarettes a day for 35 years you may get emphysema, if you steal from your employer you may get fired, if you constantly berate your fiancé or spouse they may leave you, if you are a controlling critical parent your child may not want anything to do with you.
These principles need to be applied under the leadership of the Holy Spirit through discernment.
They are not mechanical rules that apply no matter the circumstance.
Life teaches us so many exceptions to the idea that the wicked never prosper and the righteous never suffer.
Job teaches us that Bad times do not necessarily equal the disfavor of God on our lives.
The Goodness of God?*
Perhaps the answer then lies in the fact that God is not good?
After all, why would God allow this tragedy to befall Job?
Why would God give permission for this kind of thing to happen?
Have you ever had something happen that so shook you to the core of your being that it messed with your theology?
Something that made you look upward and shout “How could You have let this happen?!” “What ‘good’ is there in this?!...I trusted You!”
In chapter 9 Job visits this idea */Job 9:21-23 (NIV) “Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life.
It is all the same; that is why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent.”/*