20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshipped.
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 (or Praise) be the name of the Lord.”
22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.
When we consider the topic of praise, we need to first come to the realization that praise is the highest work carried out by God’s children. And then we need to realize that God’s throne is the highest point in the entire universe, and so the praises that we lift to Him actually reaches up to the highest point possible—the throne of God. How important is praise? Just ask King David, in the Psalms he says that he prayed to God three times a day, but also in the Psalms he said that he praised God seven times a day. He praised God twiced as much as he prayed to God.
We should not only pray to God but also all the more learn to praise God, and one thing for sure—we need to learn how to praise Him when life has become a struggle, when we are afflicted by one thing after the other. Here’s a fact that you probably are already aware of, but in case you aren’t let me give you a personal newsbreak… life is painful! Anyone who says otherwise is selling something to you that you really cannot afford to buy! Life is a struggle, not just a struggle but let me add it is a daily struggle.
I believe that all of us, primarily those of us that have reached the age of adulthood have lost some things. Some of us (especially nowadays) have lost homes, cars, money & relationships. We’ve not only lost some things, we’ve lost some people through death, divorce, division, distance, decision to discontinue, or desertion we’ve lost some people too haven’t we? We’ve lost some serious love connections like our fathers, our mothers, a wife or a husband, a child, a sister or a brother—a very close relative or friend, through the years we’ve lost them one by one. If we were to take a moment this morning and conduct a brief inventory of our lives I know that we would come to the conclusion that we have experienced possibly some great lost in our lives.
The lost of anything can be painful, overwhelming, and overbearing. Losing something or someone has caused many people to go into what is known as clinical depression. Losing something or someone has even caused some of us to question God. It has made us wonder, does He really care? There’s somebody here this morning that has lost something, maybe a job that you’ve worked on for many years—you’ve gotten so used to that big paycheck every other Friday. And now you have to settle for that measly unemployment check from the state. We’ve lost some things, we lost some people, some possessions, some positions, and some of us have lost our pride. Used to be a time when the only thing you downsized was soda and an order fries.
But now you have downsize everything the car, the house or apartment you live, the clothes you wear, the food you eat almost everything has to be down-sized because you lost some things. It’s not because you’ve anything wrong, it’s just that life can throw a curve at us sometimes. But you ought be able this morning while you’re sitting here in God’s house to say that I may have lost some people, some possessions, a position, or a privilege, but through it all—I never lost my praise! Some of the things just in the last year, other people going through the same thing has lost their mind and some even tried to take their own lives—but you’re here this morning with less than what you used to have, but you still have your praise!
Now you may not be happy, because to happy depends on what’s happening. But you still have your joy—the Word says consider it joy when you’re going various trials. Didn’t say be happy about it, but consider it joy—why? Because “Knowing that the testing of our faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Somebody here can say, “I’ve lost some things, but I never lost my joy!
Some people, when they lose something or somebody—their faith is challenged. And that’s normal [believe it or not] it is normal. But if you walk completely away from God, you didn’t have any faith in the first place. I just believe [deep down in my heart this morning] there’s somebody here that can say although I’ve lost some people and some things. Although I’ve been through the storm and the rain, I’ve with heartaches and pain, I’ve had some ups and some downs, and I’ve been leveled to the ground. Despite all of that, I’ve never lost my faith. The late great Dr. E. K. Bailey used to say, “Faith is acting like it is so, even if it ain’t so, in order for it to be so” –praise & thanksgiving in the midst of adversity.
We have all heard the expression, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.” But this is not about luck and few things really are; neither is this a coincidence. All this occurred because Satan appeared in the presence of God on Earth, although many commentaries infer that he met with Him at His throne, but I happen to believe that Satan is well aware of our strengths and vulnerabilities and he had already been thrown out of heaven with the rest of his followers turned demons. A discussion between Satan and God ensued concerning Job and it is interesting to note that Satan didn’t bring Job’s name up, God brought Job’s name up! It is God, who brings Job to Satan’s attention, but apparently Satan already knew about Job, and he reasoned that Job was only faithful towards God because he had a hedge of protection placed around him and if He would only remove this hedge Job would in affect curse Him to His face. One of his most powerful weapons is the weapon of discouragement.
DISCOURAGEMENT WITH BLESSINGS
Now let me tell you something about the devil if you don’t know already. He is a busy creature; who is also known as a thief, and what he loves to steal from us the most, is our joy and our praise towards God. The devil will steal, kill, and destroy your blessings just to discourage your heart. His attack upon Job was designed to cause him to question the goodness of God. He will steal your job (livelihood), try his level best to shame you, and destroy your children. He wanted Job and he wants us to deny God, and there is no extent to how far he will go to accomplish his devilish mission.
Job was a man who actually lived on this earth (he was not a mythical character), he was a man of great devotion to God; he was also a very rich man. He was a man who tried his best to avoid evil, Job was a family man; he was blessed with seven sons and three daughters. He was blessed with land, and cattle, and servants. Job had everything a man could ever want, he was successful, but he didn’t let his success go to his head. He knew that whatever he had and whatever he achieved was only because of God’s grace and mercy. But here in the text, the devil actually bargains with God to allow him to take away all of these blessings in order to cause Job to become discouraged.
DISCOURAGEMENT FROM PEOPLE
Have you ever been discouraged by people? I surely have and I am quite sure that I have discouraged a few people myself somewhere down the line. The devil’s efforts to discourage us often involve the ones we really care for and/or respect. He will use those people who you are around or close to be insensitive towards you, with words that will wound and leave you bleeding in your heart. He will use what you care about in order to break you down. I love the Word of God, and I truly love to preach but I’ve had some horrible things said to me and about me behind my back by a few preachers most of whom I dearly respect. Some of things they’ve said could have caused me to give up the pulpit all together, until I placed it in my heart that I am not preaching for their approval nor am I preaching for them to embrace me. I realized that I was called by God to preach and not by them. However, words can often be quite an effective weapon in bringing others down.
The devil is very crafty because he will use your very own family or your most dearest of friends to crush your faith, your trust, and your praise for the most High God. In Job 2: 9 we read, “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.” Now let’s not become too angry with Mrs. Job because her counsel to her dear husband might have been born out of her deep feelings of pity and compassion. But, I hate to think of what would have happened to Job had he followed her advice. I believe that this blasphemy would have resulted in the immediate death of Job and at the same time it would have given the devil some bragging rights. It is interesting to note that Mrs. Job acted in a fashion similar to that of Eve, who encouraged Adam to sin against God. However, Job reacted differently than Adam, look at his response in verse 10 of the second chapter, “You talk like some heathen (foolish) woman. What? Shall we receive only pleasant things from the hand of God and never anything unpleasant?” (The Living Bible) Job had a few friends who gave their unneeded advice as well but Job still maintained his faith in God. Some people have a knack for hurting others with their words even when they are not actually trying to hurt you. But if their words are allowed by you to discourage you from serving God the devil could not be more pleased with them and you and I don’t know about you but I don’t want to ever please the devil by giving in to his schemes and lies.
DISCOURAGEMENT WITH GOD
Sometimes God appears to be silent while you’re going through a trial. Job was very familiar with God’s silence, as we read this great book of Job we will see that Job in all his pain, suffering, and agony, cried out to God continuously. In fact, for the first 37 chapters of the book of Job, his cries for God’s help went totally unanswered. It seemed as if Job had sinned greatly answered God, don’t think that the devil won’t elevate this belief by whispering to you that God’s delay is solely because of your sins.
Even worst, he wants you to believe that God’s delay in your life or silence is directly due to His lack of love for you. If he can get you to believe this lie it will be much easier for him to get you to become very discouraged with God. You see all he really wants to do is to get you to the point of exhaustion until you doubt almost everything you’ve heard concerning the love of God for you. This is what he is trying do with Job here in out text. As blood bought believers in God, we are not always going to hear God’s voice, but from Job we can learn a few practical things to do when God seems silent, and that is to keep on praising Him! Even when life itself just doesn’t make any sense.
William Ward, the four-star army general who served as Commander, U. S. Africa Command once said, “Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God.” And he is right; it is indeed impolite for us to be discouraged with the One who knows all about us.
DISCOURAGEMENT WITH SELF
Many times we are discouraged with our own selves, I’ve had many people come to me and say that they’ve sin so greatly that God would never forgive them and they even gave in to the thought that they were automatically headed for the eternal fires of hell because of all their indiscretions. Now, who told them that? It was nobody but the devil himself who geared their thoughts to that end. And this is the devil’s primary objective, to get us to concede to ever living our life for God and in short to become disenchanted with God and the things of God. The devil loves to make us think that we are worthless, he wanted to Job to feel worthless. Think about it, Job had everything he needed and then lost everything in a moment’s notice.
The devil took away his children, his livelihood, and his health simultaneously. As bad as things can get, I really don’t think any of us will ever go through what Job had to go through. Job went from riches to poverty all at once. Now don’t you think that’s enough to damage anyone’s self-esteem? Here is devil’s strategy, if he could just convince you that God doesn’t really love because He didn’t bless in the time you thought you should have been blessed he will in turn cause you to believe that you are not worthy of a blessing from God at all.
He will constantly remind you of the things you’ve done, the things you’ve said; and the places you’ve been that was against God’s will. He will use all these circumstances in order to get you to condemn your own self. He hopes that you will come to the conclusion that I didn’t get that job because I did not work hard enough or I’m too old to do the work effectively. I am not married because I’m not good looking enough or my spouse wants a divorce because he or she wants a newer model, or my parents got divorce and it’s all because of me, etc. The devil is a liar? He is the “father of lies”; he is the foremost expert when it comes to lies and lying. He’s an expert when it comes to discouragement.
He had a hand in discouraging Elijah, “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, "It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!" (1 Kings 19: 4) He was there to assist Jeremiah with his momentary bout of discouragement, “Cursed be the day on which I was born; let not the day on which my mother bore me be blessed. Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad. And let that man be like the cities which the Lord overthrew, and repented not; and let him hear the cry in the morning, and the shouting at noontide, because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?” (Jeremiah 20: 14-18)
The devil also managed to discouraged King David, the man after God’s own heart, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Psalm 43: 5) However, I notice one thing here in the words of David; let’s look at it again, “…for I shall yet praise Him…” Here he is questioning his own soul, and he wants to know why he feels so desponded and so discouraged. But inspite of his despondency and his discourage he concludes that he will continue to praise God. Now, could it be that King David and Job knows something that we all should learn? Could it be that even when we become discouraged with our own self it shouldn’t diminish our praise of the Most High?
Sometimes we do get discouraged, discouragement is a part of life. Discouragement comes most often when we do the right things but experience poor results. When we work hard, without any progress, when we give it our all but still lose every game, discouragement eats a hole in heart and makes us want to quit. But Job helps us to understand something about discouragement doesn’t he? Look what he says (and I’m paraphrasing), I came into this world without anything, and I was naked! And when the time comes for me to leave this world I will leave without anything. The Lord Himself gave me all that I have acquired throughout this life’s journey, and the Lord Himself can take it away so therefore it is my concern or my purpose because my purpose is to praise to the Lord. I was made to praise Him it is in my DNA. I’ve been up and I’ve been down, I’ve gained and I’ve lost, but I didn’t lose everything because I still have my praise. I can hear Job say, “I never lost my praise” remember that whatever is happening in your life, no matter how gloomy or discouraged you may feel, even when you’re faced with what feels like the silenced of God—God is always aware of and concerned about what you’re going through. In fact, at the close of this great book of Job, the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before (42:10). Despite intense unexplained suffering Job refused to curse God and he continued to worship and praise Him. We must remember that we do not live to ourselves but as members of the family of God. We must remember that we live here as citizens of heaven. We must remember we have an unseen adversary
contending for our souls. Job passed the test by holding on to his praise, now we need to hold to ours. Amen.