Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 

Title: How do you face trouble?

Text: Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.  And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20-21)

Scripture Reading: Job 1:13-22


Is there any good news for those who suffer?  In times when trouble strikes, we need to take an inventory to see if there is any good news that can cheer us up and help us to bear the burden of pain. Trouble and suffering are facts of life that all of us must cope with sooner or later.  An incurable disease may afflict someone we love or even us personally.  A financial disaster may wipe out our fortunes.  A domestic tragedy may tear apart our home.  There are fatal accidents on life’s highways.  There are dead-end streets where all hopeful expectations are brought to a stop.

How should Christians cope with suffering and trouble? When trouble comes, some people turn to religion, hoping it will deepen and strengthen their faith.  Others turn away from religion in disappointment and despair.  Still others turn against religion in hate and cynicism. 

How do people cope with pain and trouble?  Some bluster and bluff and cuss.  Some develop a headache and take an aspirin.  Some drink or take drugs that enable them to escape the pain of reality temporarily.  Some pray and trust God.

What will you do when trouble comes?  Will you turn to God?  Will you run from God?  Will you turn against God?

Let’s take a look at Job, the ultimate example of a man who struggled with suffering in the times before Christ. Let’s begin by reading our Scriptures for today, Job 1:13-22. (From the New Century Bible)

13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house;
14 and a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them,
15 when the Sabeans raided them and took them away—indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
16 While he was still speaking, another also came 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 still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,
19 and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.
21 And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

Heavenly Father, we are thankful that we can come before your throne of grace, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  We come this morning seeking your blessing upon our Bible lesson, for we need the Holy Spirit to illuminate our understanding.  And Fathe, we ask your blessing on all that are gathered in this room, because we need your blessings to help us get through life’s troubles.  Thank you Father for loving us, even when we are unlovely.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

Let’s begin by looking at several aspects of Job’s character to see what kind of man he was.

First, Job is a dramatic illustration of one who experienced undeserved suffering. 

He is an example of how the innocent can suffer.  These verses which we read, tell us four things about Job’s character that we should consider:

First, Job was a blameless man. 

Verse 1 says, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect…”  He was blameless in the eyes of God, in the eyes of others, and in his own eyes.  Job was a man just like you and me, only better.  He was a praiseworthy man, an important man and a man of distinction, a judge, and a man who had authority over others.  The country he lived in was the land of Uz, in the eastern part of Arabia; the same place where Abraham lived before God called him out of that place.  This was a very wicked land, but it was to Job’s praise that he was so exceedingly good in such a bad place.

Second, Job was upright. 

Verse 1 says, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was upright…”  This means that he was straightforward and genuine and right in his relationships.  He was a very good man, extremely religious, and better than his neighbors. 

Third, Job feared God.  

Verse 1 also says, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man feared God…”  He was a reverent worshiper of God as far as he was able to understand Him.  He was sincere in his religion.  He was called perfect by God; but he was not sinless as he was later to admit.  He said, “If I say I am perfect, I shall be proven wicked.”  He respected all of God’s commandments, and tried his best to keep them.  He was really as good as he seamed to be.
 
And fourth, Job was a man who turned away from evil.  

Verse 8 says, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and turns his back on evil?  There was no compromise in this man’s life.  Notice the question that God put to Satan: “Have you considered my servant Job?”  God speaks of him in an honorable way: He said that he is a servant.  Good men are God’s servants.  God said, “Look at him.  There is none like him, none that I value like him, and none that have such great faith.”

Well, Job was certainly a good man, but next let’s look at his position in his family and the community he lived in. Job lived at a time when people commonly believed that anyone who was good would be happy and prosperous.  He fit the times, because he was a good man, and he was also happy and prosperous. 

There are five statements that can be made about his position within the community where he lived:

First, Job was the best of the best; there was no one like him.

Second, Job enjoyed great wealth.

Third, Job had a wonderful family.

Forth, Job was a priest in his own household (1:5).
 
And fifth, Job was the epitome of success and happiness.

Verse 5, has this to say about his position as a priest in his home and his love for his children, “So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify 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 sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.” 

It is apparent that Job loves and cares for his children.  Those who are good will be good to their children, and will especially do all they can to see that they come to know Jesus as Savior.  On the occasion that Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned,” he is expressing his concern that they may have taken the liberty to celebrate by drinking too much and have “cursed God in their hearts.” 

But Job had a remedy for their sin.  As soon as the celebration was over, he ordered them to examine their own consciences and repent of what they had done wrong during the feast, and to prepare themselves to worship God.  He kept his authority over them and they submitted to it, even though they were adults, with their own homes.  He was the priest of the family, and they still worshipped at his alter.  Job, like Abraham, had an alter for his family and he offered daily sacrifices for his family, and he encouraged them to join him in worship and in prayer. 

But despite his good character and his good standing, Job experienced great catastrophe and suffering. It came suddenly and it was both undeserved and unexplained.

First, Job suffered the loss of property (1:14-17). 

This is how it happened: “A messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were eating grass nearby, when the Sabeans attacked and carried them away.  They killed the servants with swords, and I am the only one who escaped to tell you!” 

The messenger was still speaking when another messenger arrived and said, “Lightning from God fell from the sky.  It burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who escaped to tell you!” 

The second messenger was still speaking when another messenger arrived and said, “The Babylonians sent three groups of attackers that swept down and stole your camels and killed the servants.  I am the only one who escaped to tell you!” 

Job lost all that he had.  He had 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys and he lost them all at once, along with the servants who cared for them.  They were taken by his neighbors, the Sabeans, and it was Satan who put the thought into their minds to do it.  He had 7000 sheep and they were killed by lightning, and the shepherds were killed at the same time.  In this case, Job was told that the destruction came from heaven and that made it even more terrible, because he looked upon that as a sign of God’s displeasure with him.  He had 3000 camels, and the servants who tended them, and he lost them all at the same time when the Chaldeans drove them off and slew the servants.  Perhaps Job questioned why the wicked robbers prospered while he suffered this great loss.

Second, Job suffered the tragic death of his children (1:18-19). 

His dearest and most valuable possessions were his ten children; and, to conclude the tragedy, news was brought to him that they were killed and burned in the house where they were celebrating.  This was the greatest of Job’s losses, therefore the devil kept it for the last.
 
Next, Job experienced the loss of his health (2:7-8). 

The devil has done all of this for one reason, so that Job will curse God.  And now he provokes him even more by smiting him with painful boils.  They covered him from head to foot.  They were so severe that there was no way he could position himself to get relief.  As bad as his condition was, his treatment for it was nothing less than strange.  Instead of applying healing salves, he took a piece of broken pottery and scrapped himself with it.  He has to tend to these boils himself, because his children and servants are dead and his wife is unsympathetic toward him.  He has lost all his wealth, so he can’t go to a doctor.  Even his former friends have refused to lend him a hand; to dress or wipe his running sores.  All that he does to his sores is to scrape them.  Finally, instead of lying down in a soft, warm bed, he sets down among the ashes; perhaps to wait to die.

Job suffered the loss of his possessions and his health, and then he experienced bad council and advice from his wife (2:9).  Here are some of the most hurtful words I have ever heard.  After all that Job had gone through his wife said, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity?  Curse God and die!” Satan had spared her, when everything else had been taken away, for this purpose, to further trouble and tempt him. 

First she attacks his faithfulness to his religion when she asks, “Do you still have your integrity?”  In other words she is saying, “Is this a God to be still loved, and blessed, and served".  She urges him to renounce his religion and curse God.  She says, “Curse God and die.”  She pushes for him to become independent from God and to find his own relief through suicide; to end his trouble by ending his life.
 
Last of all, Job endured the frustration of sincere friends who blundered in their efforts to comfort and counsel him. 

Nevertheless, we should recognize that Job was fortunate in some respects. First, his friends did come to him.  And that required great effort on their part. Then they sat in silence with him for seven days.  Sometimes silence is the best way to support someone who is suffering. And when they did speak, they gave the best advice they knew how to give.  Basically they said to him, “Job, acknowledge your sinfulness. Admit your hypocrisy.  Confess your secret sins.” 

Job’s friends were philosophers and thinkers, and they offered him the best advice they knew for the complex problems he faced.  Job and his friends believed that suffering was the result of sin and that people who suffered must have sinned. 

In the midst of his pain, Job held on to his conviction regarding his personal integrity.  He was convinced that he did not deserve the suffering he was experiencing.  His suffering was totally out of proportion to any sin of which he might have been guilty.

We learn from the book of Job as we study it in its entirety that suffering is not always the result of sin.  We also learn from the book of Job that God is often blamed for tragedies and catastrophes and hurts for which he is not responsible.

Job’s friends came to him with the suggestion that his sufferings were the unavoidable consequence of some great flaw in his character and in his beliefs and conduct.  Job was patient in the sense that he held on to his since of integrity and denied that his sufferings were due to some great sin in his life.

When suffering comes to us, we must hold on to the conviction that God is love and then that God is good.  We must believe that God always acts in conformity to His good character and does the right thing. How will you handle trouble?  Will it bring you closer to Christ?  Will it turn you away from Christ?  Will it turn you against Christ?

Several suggestions may be helpful to us as we consider the possibility of suffering in the future. 

First, let’s get acquainted with Christ as Savior and Teacher and Friend and Helper. 

Let’s study the example of Jesus Christ as he dealt with the pain and suffering of others.  And let’s be assured that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Before suffering comes, we need to develop some resources to assist us in times of trouble.  In the same way that we take out liability or accident insurance, let’s take out some spiritual insurance.  There are five things that we can do to prepare ourselves for future troubles:

First, we must develop the daily habit of a quiet time in which we let God speak to us from His Word.
 
Second, we must let prayer be a conversation with God in which we not only speak to him but let Him speak to us.

Third, we need to regularly participate in public worship and allow God to use this time to draw us closer to Him.

Forth, we need to develop genuine Christian friendships with other members of the family of God so they can be the medium of God’s ministry to us when trouble comes.

And fifth, we must expect the angels of God to come in our time of need. 

In the meantime, we must not be anxious about trouble that may come in the future.  Let’s determine to live now for the highest and the best under the leadership of the risen Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I believe that we can all relate to today’s lesson, because I know that each of you have experienced sickness, and sorrow and discouragement.  But the message is clear from our study today; you don’t have to suffer alone.  God will help; Jesus will help; the Holy Spirit will help; Christian friends will help.  I don’t know where you are at in your standing before the Lord, but I hope you will do what ever you need to do to prepare yourself for the future. 

The first step may be to make Jesus your Savior.  Let me know if I can assist you with prayer or council.  Let’s pray now and thank God for giving us the best He had.  He gave us Jesus; the best of the best.

Heavenly Father, we realize from our study of Job that we don’t always understand why we have troubles.  We see others who appear to have everything going well in their lives, even though they are not concerned with the kingdom of God.  Why do good people have trouble and bad people prosper?  But Father, we know that your grace is sufficient to get us through every trouble that we come up against.  And we know that at the end of our journey we have a heavenly home waiting, where there will be no more trouble and no more pain.  Thank you Father, for the blessed promises in your word.  Bless us Lord.  And forgive us our sins.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

 

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