Job 3:26 – “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”
We all will at some time in our life suffer a crushing crisis, no matter who you are you can’t win them all. So what do you do about the challenges you don’t win? What about the devastating defeats, like the hopelessness that comes when your health fails. What do you do with the punishing pain, overwhelming sorrow and suffering that seems to snuff out life? When your dreams die and you sink under the heaviness of the hardship? When your ambitions are replaced with agony? Or when that fond hope you have cherished and nurtured for years, will never be realized? What happens when your smiles are stolen and life slips away? What do you do? The greatest measure of a person isn’t in how they handle things during the fair weather but when it all falls apart. Its often the decisions we make during the defeats that determine who we will be when we come out of the difficulties. Our attitude in the agony is one of life’s greatest challenges. Some look at Job as a book of answers but really it is a painful yet powerful revelation of the human experience. Job is an ordinary man facing extraordinary life circumstances, crushing ones he has no control over. Sooner or later in this life something big enough will surface and swallow you, something that you can’t control or fix, and it is Job that gives us the insight into the how not the why. Job’s reality was recorded to give us insight into how to handle the tragedies of life, both ours and others for we are not the only ones suffering. It shows us the positive as well as the negative and what not to do as we comfort and counsel. The problem is that for many of us we miss the teaching of Job because we get hung up on the why Job suffered, and missing the how he handles adversity. One of the greatest questions of life is “what will you do with defeat?” Defeat can either cause you to discover a deeper dependence on God or or drive you to despair. For many the only thing they gain from defeat is discouragement and depression. None of us like the devastation of defeat yet I have always learned more through the losses. We can glean and grow through the trials or we can give up. For the righteous rest can be found even in the relentless pain because helpless does not mean hopeless. Our challenge today is that we try to rest on our own results, we believe it is up to us, we are a society stuck, mired in self effort. A phrase that is often quoted and many even think is in the Bible is, “God helps those who help themselves.” not only is this not in the Bible but it is also not consistent with what the Bible teaches. All of us face situations in which we are powerless to help ourselves and if God only helped those who helped themselves, then we would all be in deep trouble. Helplessness is endemic to the human experience, it begins at birth and usually precedes our death. And although helplessness can come in a whole variety of ways we can have hope in our helplessness because of God’s holy hand.
When you look at the life of Job two things stand out:
First suffering is not always the result of sin. In the first two chapters we learn that Job was blessed with great fortune and family and if it were not revealed to us about what went on in heaven, we might assume that Jobs affliction was the result of him disobeyed and displeased God. Yet the very opposite was true, Job was faithful to the Father, his wealth didn’t keep him from worship. He lived a righteous life yet, attackers carried off his wealth, raiders killed many of his servants, stealing his livestock. Fire fell from Heaven and burned his sheep and many servants, a tornado took his children, his health failed being afflicted with painful sores from head to toe. Yet we read in Job 1:22, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Suffering is not always the result of sin, what if God were to punish us today for the sins we’ve committed, how many of us would be in the hospital or if you are like me the grave. Not one of us would be well enough to even walk into a service to worship. What most of us miss is God’s grace and goodness, we miss His patient kindness. The second observation is that when God doesn’t answer our questions, we already have enough for the test. Have you ever taken a test and in the middle tried to ask the teacher for the answer in some way. When we were younger we tried but as we grew older we realize that the teacher was not going to give the answer because they had already given us enough prior to the test. In chapter 3 we find Job asking God why he is going through such a hard test? Job asked, “Why did God allow me to be born? Why didn’t I die at birth? Why can’t I die to escape this anguish?” When we are in the midst of life’s test, we often ask, “Why me? Why do I have to have this illness?” “What is the purpose of this? Why can’t I learn this lesson some other way?” Often when no answer comes the response is to turn from God and stop trusting. Job did not curse God, he did not leave God he stated in Job 2:10, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” The truth is that even though Job had questions during the test he knew enough about God’s goodness before it came to answer his own heart’s questions. What about us do we know enough of God’s ways and goodness to answer our own heart’s questions? May be you are in the middle of the test right now and you are frantically demanding an answer from the Almighty, have you looked at what God has already said in His Word, the Bible? Knowing enough for the test does not always mean that we will apply what we know to the test. Applying what we know requires recall, yet during the test, most of us draw blanks and forget what we know. Job also forgot the specific ways God was good to him because life’s tests have a way of blurring God’s blessings. Job’s lamenting and questions reflected his helplessness but not his hopelessness. Helplessness is a feeling often based in the fact of our powerlessness to help ourselves. Our wealth, our work, our support systems found in family and friends, and even our will to live can be taken from us. In these moments of helplessness only our hope in God will enable us to recover and be restored. Where we place our hope determines our help, Job placed his hope in God, he chose to rested in God’s:
Sovereignty. In Job 42:2 we hear Jobs heart when he says “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” God’s sovereignty reflects who is in charge, it is our submission to this sovereignty that reflects to the world who is really in control. When we say that God is in charge this does not mean that we are like puppets pulled and played on a sovereign string, rather God’s sovereignty assures us that even when the earth quakes, when the doctors can’t help, when life’s dreams become nightmares, and everything seems out of control, God is still in charge. God’s sovereignty has been my security through the storms, His sovereignty has allowed me to be steadfast when everything else seemed to shift. For me there is no attribute more comforting than God’s sovereignty. Knowing that He is in control in the midst of the chaos brings me reassuring rest. Regardless of the adverse circumstances, in spite of the severe trials, God is still in control. Sovereignty has ordained our afflictions, sovereignty overrules them, and sovereignty will sanctify them. Job was helpless, but he was not hopeless, he didn’t know he was the subject of a test between God and satan, but he knew God was in charge.
Second, Job chose to rest in God’s righteousness. In Job 4:17 he says: “Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker?” God’s righteousness means that He will always do what is right, He fully understanding the situation, His motives are pure, His evaluation is accurate, and His knowledge is complete. We do not know the future and may not see our situation in light of the complete picture, for our moment of helplessness may turn out to be the foundation for our triumph. Regardless of the unknown we can rest in the truth that God will always do what is right in our lives.
Third, Job chose to rest in God’s redemption, in Job 19:25-27 Job states: “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” God is the One who will justify or pay back what we’ve lost in life, no matter how we have been treated, wether abused, persecuted or served an unfair hand, those who hope in God’s redemption will see His power revealed. It may not be in this life, but for sure in eternity. Unfortunately, many turn from God during the test because we demand instant gratification. We want our situation to improve immediately, but hope shouldn’t be hurried. In a materialistic and instant society, it is hard to hope in the unseen and to believe in what is yet to become. Yet if we are to have courage, strength and perseverance to move through helpless times, we must have hope in God’s future redemption. Paul said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” Romans 8:18, 24-25. What is your hope resting on? Are you resting on the character of God, His sovereignty, righteousness, and redemption.? Let me encourage you to remember and recite aloud today the words of Isaiah 40:28-31, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.