Biography – Job - Trusting God Despite Suffering!
What role did God play in your suffering?
A number of high profile judgments have been rendered recently. An Italian court overturned the conviction of 24-year-old American Amanda Knox. Knox was found not guilty of killing her British roommate, 21-year-old Meredith Kercher, in 2007.[i] Knox flew home to Seattle this past week. After two years behind bars, two U.S. hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal jailed as spies in Iran were reunited with family members after securing their freedom on September 22 after a court approved a $1 million bail deal.[ii] On September 27 Governor John Kasich spared Joseph Murphy’s life. Kasich commuted Joseph Murphy’s death sentence to life without the possibility of parole. Murphy was set to be executed in ten/nine days for the 1987 murder of Ruth Predmore, a 72 year old widow from Marion, Ohio.
Now in all three of these verdicts some people were pleased and others were furious, frustrated or left wondering – “what just happened here?” That’s also true of God. Sometimes we’re thrilled with God’s judgment. We’re thrilled with his decision making! The Judge of all the earth did right! Other times were furious, (Uzzah!) frustrated or left wondering, “what just happened here?” (Ananias & Sapphira?) Now a classic example is Job! Turn in your Bibles to Job chapter 2. Do you need a Bible? Job right now is in a tough spot. He has no financial security. His livestock have either been stolen or barbecued! Most of his servants were murdered or killed. The remains of his 10 children are buried and gone. Job grieves the loss of life. No one would have blamed him for shaking his fist at God and saying, “You can’t be trusted. I’ve served you all these years and this is how you repay me! If this is how things are going to be than just forget it!” But that’s not how Job responds. Job doesn’t gripe as much as he worships – his face is probably on the ground with tears streaming down his cheeks. “Naked I came, naked I’ll go. The Lord gives, the Lord takes. May the name of the Lord be praised!”
That’s not at all what Satan expected to hear! Time to move to chapter 2. (Read vs. 1) It appears the angels did this consistently but Satan came periodically, but if God said, “Satan, jump! Satan would say, “how high!” (Read vs. 2)  And the Lord said to Satan… “You are 0 for 1. You said he’d bail on me but he didn’t. You said Job would curse me out! Again, he didn’t.” But that’s not what God said. God asks the same question again! "Where have you come from?" Why does he roam? May I remind you that Satan is your adversary not your friend. Satan will do whatever he can to tempt you to stop believing in God. He wants to steal your joy, rob you of hope, kill your dreams and destroy your life. He wants to accuse you of being unfaithful before God.
In chapter 1, I couldn’t figure out why God brings Job up. But in chapter 2 it makes perfect sense. Look at Job 2:3. RATS! Not him again! Bring up someone else, but not Job! Once again here’s why God brings up Job! (vs. 3b) Let’s make sure things are clear here. In chapter 1 who took away Job’s oxen, donkeys, sheep and camels? Who killed his servants? Who crushed his children? Satan did, but God allowed it. Permit me to ask Job two questions right now. Mr. Job what role did Satan play in your suffering?” His answer would be – I don’t know what you’re talking about. Question #2! “Mr. Job what role did God play in your suffering?” His answer in Job 2 would be – God doesn’t do this to the righteous. But as Job’s suffering lingers he will eventually demand justice from God in chapter 38 - I want to know why you did this to me! We know why! Job doesn’t. Satan is accusing God of coddling his creation! These folks love you because you bless them. But if the blessing stops so will their praise.
Job is God’s proof. Job’s bad day is going to get worse. No one knows how much time lapses from bad day chapter one to bad day chapter two, but that doesn’t prevent speculation! Dr. James Smith states that Jewish tradition assigns one year.[iii] That makes sense to me because Satan just lost – he was defeated! It drives me crazy when athletes lose, but brag about how good they are. Dude, you’re 0-1 the best thing to do is just be quiet. Satan is quiet until God brings Job up again! Find verse 4-6a. Well, there you have it! An answer. An answer to one of the greatest “WHY” questions of all time. Why does God allow suffering? Sometimes he just permits it! He lets it happen! It’s not the only reason – but ONE BIG reason! It certainly isn’t a popular reason in light of verses 7 & 8! Scholars have consulted with doctors trying to diagnose Job’s sores. Was it leprosy, elephantiasis[iv], chronic eczema, psoriasis, or even melanoma?[v] Maybe shingles - not sure! Several chapters but especially chapter 7 gives us his symptoms. Find Job 7:4. Whatever Job had would not allow him to sleep. You are tired all day and can’t sleep at night. Verse 5 is almost TMI – Job’s sores were inflamed, persistent, housed worms, broke open, scabbed over and oozed. He suffered with a high fever, loss weight and had terrible bad breath! Go back to verse 3. What’s worse, he endured this for months! Now I understand why James mentions Job as an example of perseverance.
How many people here have ever been sick? Some of you have been severely sick. What should a person do if they are sick? John 11:3 tells us to send word to Jesus. PRAY! James 5 instructs us to call on the elders to anoint with oil and pray. If a person has been sick for awhile we start to get frustrated. We get frustrated with doctors. This has gone on too long. We need a diagnosis. Sometimes even doctors have no idea what to do. We get frustrated with those who love us. We sometimes get snappy. We create unrealistic expectations. We also get frustrated with God! YOU could heal me, but you’ve chosen not to. I believe there’s always a reason why we’re sick or why we suffer. Some people are sick because they don’t take care of themselves. Some people are sick because they sin. I am going to get drunk constantly – this decision eventually destroys their liver!
Go back to Job 2:3b. Notice what God says in verse 3 and what Satan says in verse 4. How did Job endure? He kept his integrity. Integrity refers to that which is complete, whole or sound.[vi] Integrity shouts “who am I” and “what do I really believe?” Job determined before he was sick that God would be his life. That he would fear God and shun evil. We think God is on trial in Job. Not a chance. Clearly Job’s integrity is on trial. Satan says, "A man will give all he has for his own life. For some that includes their integrity! Inotherwords, suffering proves God has abandoned me so I’m going to abandon him!
For nearly 18 months I’ve been asking myself one question. What does it mean to trust God? The truth is this question has driven me to write sermons based on what it means to take God at his word. Can you imagine how life would change if we really trusted God instead of just saying we trust God? For example:
I trust God with my marriage. God says the best marriages are those where the husband loves his wife as he loves himself. I am a husband. I have no say in how Tricia responds to me. I must love her regardless of how she treats me. God promises that sacrifice beats selfishness every time. I trust God with my kids. He knows them better than I ever will. They are on loan from God to Tricia and myself. We are their parents but God is their father. You want emotionally healthy kids - point them to God. You’ll love this one. I trust God with my money.
Maybe you’ve never heard this before but God says to give him 10% of what you earn. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about how you use the other 90%. God gave his son. Jesus gave his life. God’s nature shows us he’s generous and he wants us to be generous too! Do you approach life with a closed fist or an open hand? I trust God with my health. Currently, I’m healthy. I hope to stay that way a long time. But that’s not just my decision. Even the healthiest of people can get sick. If I get sick; will I trust God? If sores develop or cancer is diagnosed will I lose my integrity?
Have you ever seen a cat like this? This cat’s name is Frank and Louie. He lives in Worchester, Mass. He is a Janus cat named after the Roman god Janus who had two faces. Frank & Louie now occupy a spot in the Guinness World Records. This cat was supposed to live a day or two. 12 years later he’s still going strong despite having two faces, two mouths, two noses and three eyes. What’s really cool – his middle eye can’t blink, so people assume he’s staring at them when his other eyes are closed. That’s one unique cat. Job is one unique cat! And what made him unique is that he held onto his integrity. He trusted that God was in control even though it looked like his life was out of control. Do you remember my four examples? Marriage, money, kids and my body! Every example comes down to one word - CONTROL! We want to be in control, but we’re not. God has reasons for what he does. We often don’t know what they are because he’s in control. I could not believe that Steve Jobs died this past week. I knew he was sick, but his death caught me off guard. If anyone could have bought himself a cure – it was Steve Jobs. But even a multi-billionaire is not in control. Go back to verse 6 again! Job lived; Jesus did not. God did not spare Jesus’ life. And aren’t you glad he didn’t! NOW TRUST HIM!
[iii] James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, 55
[iv] [iv] James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, 56
[v] Charles Swindoll, Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance, 32-33
[vi] Logos Bible Software, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon