Learning to Talk to God When We're Suffering

July 9, 2017 Speaker: Michael Rhodes Series: Greyless: A Certain Faith

Passage: Job 42:7–42:10

  • Job "was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil" (Job 1:1)

 

Two Key Questions Posed by the Book of Job:

 

  1. Do people really have a relationship with God? Or do people simply serve God for what they can get out of the deal? 

 

  1. How should Christians respond to Suffering? How should Christians speak when suffering? 

 

 

Answer #1: Praise

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 1:20-21 ESV) 

 

Answer #2: Silence

11 Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. 12 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. (Job 2:11-13 ESV)

 

  • But are there other ways to talk to God? 

 

  • Anger? Bitterness? Rage? Accusation? 

 

  • Job's Tough Words While Suffering

 

Job curses the day of his birth: “Why did I not die at birth, come out of the womb and expire?” (Job 3:11)

 

  • Job's Tough Words While Suffering

 

“I am blameless. I do not know myself. I despise my life. It is all one! That is why I say, ‘He destroys the blameless and the guilty.’ If a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks at the despair of the innocent. If a land has been given into the hand of a wicked man, he covers the faces of the its judges; if it is not he, then who is it?” (Job 9:22-24)

 

  • Job's Tough Words While Suffering

 

6 know then that God has wronged me and encircled me with his net.7 "If I cry out, 'Violence!' I receive no answer; I cry for help, but there is no justice. (Job 19:6-7  NET)

  • Job's Tough Words While Suffering

 

Speaking of justice, Job asks if there is any! "How often is the lamp of the wicked extinguished? How often does their misfortune come upon them? How often does God apportion pain to them in his anger? (Job 21:17)

 

  • Job's Tough Words While Suffering

 

Often these angry accusations and bitter cries are aimed at God himself

 

  • Job's Tough Words While Suffering

 

20 I cry out to you, but you do not answer me; I stand up, and you only look at me. 21 You have become cruel to me; with the strength of your hand you attack me. 22 You pick me up on the wind and make me ride on it; you toss me about in the storm. 23 I know that you are bringing me to death, to the meeting place for all the living. 24 "Surely one does not stretch out his hand against a broken man when he cries for help in his distress. 25 Have I not wept for the unfortunate? Was not my soul grieved for the poor? 26 But when I hoped for good, trouble came; when I expected light, then darkness came. 27 My heart is in turmoil unceasingly; the days of my affliction confront me.

 

  • Job's Tough Words While Suffering

 

It is as if God has become his enemy: 4 For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me. (Job 6:4 ESV)

 

  • Job's Tough Words While Suffering

 

Job longs to encounter God in the courtroom, and to confront him to his face. He looks back to his friendship with the LORD and says “where is he, he’s done me wrong, I want to confront him.” 

 

  • Job's Friends' Response

 

Nobody’s righteous, Job: “Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his maker?” Job 4: 17

 

  • Job's Friends' Response

 

God punishes evil and takes care of the righteous: “If your children have sinned against him, he has delivered them into the hand of their transgression. If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy . . . he will . . . restore your rightful habitation (Job 8:4-5)

 

  • Job's Friends' Response

 

If God gave you what you deserved, it would be even worse! “Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves” (Job 11:1)

 

“How then can man be right before God . . . man, who is a maggot, and the son of man, who is a worm!” (Job 25:4, 6)

 

  • Job is the only person in the entire story who talks to God, rather than simply about God

 

  • “For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has" 

may be better translated

 “For you have not spoken to me as is right, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:8 ESV)

 

  • #1- God Wants Us To Wrestle with Him! 

 

Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." (Gen 32:28 ESV)

 

  • Where are you holding back part of your pain from God? 

 

  • #2 God wants us to look for and to him in our suffering

 

  • The mysterious message of Job is in part that we meet God in unique ways in our pain

 

  • #3- Suffering can expand our horizons

 

  • #4 "Good Theology" That's Unwilling to Enter the Suffering of Others is Bad Theology

 

  • Wise Proverbs or Job's Condemned Friends?

 

“Surely vexation kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple.”

 

“No ill befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.”

 

“The light of the righteous rejoices, but the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”

 

“Yea, the light of the wicked is put out, and the flame of his fire does not shine.” 

 

  • Job says in 6:21: "you see my calamity and are afraid.” 

 

  • In conclusion . . .

 

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Relationship with Jesus is Eternal Life

June 18, 2017

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