Title: WORKING THROUGH PAIN AND SUFFERING
Text: Selected from Job
Long ago the Chinese discovered that a little constant pain subjected to the body would wear down an enemy and cause him to yield secret information. It didn’t take much pain, but if it were constant, it would wear a man down. They used techniques like a water drip on the forehead, bamboo shoots under the fingernails; nails pressed on the temples of the head. The Chinese discovered that a long time ago.
There is someone who discovered it long before the Chinese. Breaking down people by constant pain and suffering is as old as Satan, because since the beginning he has been subjecting man to pain and suffering in order to break them down and curse God.
Someone once said, “Those who believe in God must try to explain the existence of suffering. Those who don’t believe in God must try to explain everything else.” Suffering has been around a long time. The oldest book in the Bible is the story of suffering…Job. But when you look at it, we have known for centuries that we could depend on God to help us through pain and suffering.
Have you ever had a period in your life that you felt you were going through a Chinese torture test? Maybe you have arthritis or fibramialgia that has pain you can’t escape. Perhaps you’ve had a surgery that has left you with pain that seems to have no end. Or maybe yours is an emotional pain due to a failing relationship that seems to be reopened every time you turn around. You may be suffering spiritual pain because someone you love is living in sin. If that’s the case, then we have some tremendous news for you tonight from a very old book on pain and suffering. Job 1:6-19; 2:1-13; 5:17
I. Pain is Inevitable
1. Would you say Job experienced the usual amount of pain? Do you think his situation was a unique one?
2. Was Job the only one Satan was allowed to torment? Lk. 22:31-32 When will Satan no longer have access to Heaven to get permission to torment believers? Rev. 12:9-13 (Not until the Great Tribulation, between the 6th & 7th Trumpets of Wrath.)
3. What are we left with if stop with the thought that pain is inevitable and there’s no way out of it? (Despair) Is there anything or anyone who transcends suffering? (Yes! God!) Job 19:25-26
4. How do you think Job was able to have that kind of perspective after all that had happened to him? (His focus was on the Lord, not circumstances. The thought that his Redeemer lives sustained him.)
5. Constant pain makes us sometimes wonder where is God. Why do you think God allows constant pain?
Insight: God goes beyond our suffering and is waiting for us to reach out in the spirit to hold our hand and see us through it. Job 19:27 Pain is inevitable, but…
II. Misery is Optional
6. Pain will be with us until Jesus comes back. But to wallow in misery is something you can choose to escape. What’s the difference between pain and misery as referred to here? (You can’t do much other than medication and other pain therapy to escape pain, but misery is self-appointed.)
Comment: Those who wallow in misery throw parties…pity parties…and they are the self-appointed guests of honor.
7. Can you give a testimony of someone that lives in constant pain, but has risen above it? (Our son, Kevin, phantom pain; Joni Erickson.)
8. The fact that Job is in the Bible makes him famous. But did Job wallow in misery? Job 7:1-6, 11-16
9. When you live with constant pain, what’s the first thing to arrive and the first thing to go out the window? (The first thing to arrive is a bitter spirit that blames God or others for our condition; the first thing to go out the window is perspective of the truth and our situation.)
10. Why is it hard to maintain perspective during constant pain? (Pain has a way of occupying our attention and distorting reality. No matter what you do there’s no relief.) Job 23:8-9
Insight: Pain is like walking in a dark room. Our comfortable chair is there even though we cannot see it, but we’re trying to reach it. In pain, we search for God, but because He does not answer at the moment does not mean He is not there! Job 23:10
When we doubt God’s presence, He still knows the steps we take. And when we finish our trial, we will come forth as gold.
11. Which would you rather face…a life of pain without God or with God? If God chooses not to remove the pain, why still choose to walk with Him? (He helps us keep our feet on the path and make it to Heaven!) Job 23:11
If pain is inevitable and misery is optional, then what’s the other choice?
III. Joy is an Attitude We Choose
12. How does the oldest book on suffering end? Job 42:1-4 (Keep in mind that at this point Job is still covered with boils and has lost all his family and possessions.)
13. According to Job 42:2, how would you evaluate Job’s faith this far along in his miseries? (He could finally SEE God whom he could not see in the beginning! Job 42:5)
14. After Job’s perspective was corrected, what action resulted according to Job 42:6?
Insight: Joy is an attitude we can choose in the middle of our trial. James 1:2-3
15. When our perspective is distorted, how important is it to choose the right people to listen to? (Extremely important. Some people’s vision may be no better than ours and steer us in the wrong direction.) Job 2:9; 16:1-4; 19:1-3
16. What was it that brought an end to Job’s trials according to Job 42:10?
Insight: When Job got his eyes off of himself and could look to the needs of others and pray for them, God brought the trial to an end. Sometimes God’s purpose in allowing pain and trials is because of who He knows is watching you. How we endure the trial is more important than getting out of it! Sometimes the only way our friends will consider our testimony is when they know beyond any doubt it is genuine!
It was Job’s blessing to have revealed to him what God’s purpose was in his suffering (a contest in Heaven between good and evil). Not all of us get that privilege. We may not know until we get to Heaven. But we can choose JOY instead of misery.
What does Job’s experience teach us? It teaches that God is bigger than our problems. It teaches that He has a plan that will result in something good at the other end. It teaches that God is not only looking upon us, but He is using us to reach our friends through our trials. Rom. 8:28
Here’s the bottom line people: It was a real faith in God that transformed Job’s pain from misery into joy. And a real faith in God will carry you through your trials!