Someone said to me just recently: “Sounded like Job yesterday, asking myself, why me.” Sort of fits expression: “Mama told me I’d have days like this; she didn’t tell me they’d come in bunches like bananas!” Job asked that question, why me, may ask it again. But now, Job in our text this morning: a cry for understanding… for Job. This evening’s psalm: another cry for understanding… for God. Job ached to understand God and his purpose in Job’s pain. The psalmist aches for God to understand his pain.
Answers his own question – Job 9:12“…Who will say to him, ‘What are you doing?'” but not when asked as a challenge. Got no help from Bildad, turns to God and sincerely asks for help – doesn’t give up trying to understand God, discover God’s purpose, reconcile that with his circumstances. In spite of all that came Job’s way, he kept the faith – his confidence in God even when he didn’t understand God all that kept him going. Was because of what Job believed about God that compelled him to seek understanding, to keep coming back to God for answers to his questions.
Paul made clear we are not to question God in sense of criticizing his judgment, his actions: Rom. 9:20 “Who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God?” HCSB But God doesn’t discourage his children from asking questions when their motive is to understand. Unless you’re trying to pry into God’s secrets!! Job continues demonstrating his faith by asking a God he can neither see nor hear to answer his questions.
A. show me why v.1-2
Job at point where honestly says “I hate my life!” don’t have anything to lose, might as well say what’s on my mind (1)
if God were here, this is what I’d tell him; I would be completely transparent, let him see just how awful I feel
before you use Job’s example as license to ask God a thing or two, remember this: as important as what Job said he would do is what he did not do: may have thought better of himself compared to God than he should have, but… Job didn’t cross the line and sin against God
Job 42:7 “…the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.””
as painful and awful as life was for Job, still did the right thing – kept his face turned toward God; if life is that way for you, keep your face turned toward God, keep on seeking to understand
feels like you have condemned me – please explain (God isn’t a capricious tyrant) (2)
not a petulant “why me??”; a plea that God would not condemn without explanation as his friends had
Job maintains his innocence, that he has not brought God’s judgment on himself by his wickedness; at same time, is open to possibility he had done wrong
not trying to dodge responsibility, is trying to gain understanding – if he really had sinned, don’t just condemn, identify the charge
“tell me how I sinned so I can repent and be restored” – a good and safe question to ask, when life really stinks
do I have a blind spot, am I missing something; or maybe you have a really good idea what it’s all about – if God is correcting you, give him the right response: confess, seek forgiveness and restoration
B. what kind of Being are you v.3-7
Joseph Caryl: “A man may be long in the dark about the reason of God’s dealing with him.”
where Job was, in the dark; how to change that? call for God to supply light, again, and again, and again until he answers
God may answer different question from what you asked, but just like Job, God’s answer will satisfy your true need
meanwhile, Job’s darkness was causing him much mental and spiritual anguish – everything Job’s senses were telling him was in direct conflict with what he believed to be true about God
asks a series of questions, ones that should have obvious answers; remember, we have advantage over Job, called the Bible; all Job had was oral tradition and experience, strong witnesses to truth but Job needed more
Job really asking for more than academic or theological answers; really asking for God to demonstrate truth, show his character clearly
are you being just? how you treat the righteous and the wicked? (3)
answer’s pretty obvious isn’t it! A righteous, holy, just God will not oppress and despise his good creation; neither would he endorse plans of wicked to do evil. So, quick response, NO!
more to it, though; assumption Job makes is wrong – believes he is being oppressed, since all things come from God, means God must be oppressing him; does not yet see his experience as purifying
don’t be too hard on Job; is your first response when life gets really tough – “oh, good, God is doing this to help me, for my good, to make me a better person”
you’re acting more like a man than God (but I know better)
it sure seemed like God was missing something, overloooking the evidence, the truth; the situation was plain to Job, it ought to be to God as well (4)
Job’s vision severely limited – couldn’t see beyond his present circumstances; God, on the other hand, could see the outcome and how it would be to Job’s benefit
God could also see how Job’s experience would be profitable for, would encourage generations of saints
seemed like God was trying to compress an eternity of suffering into a lifetime; foolish to think God would run out of time to accomplish his purpose (5-7)
more important, if true, would mean no hope Job’s situation would ever be resolved; impossible, given that God is the one “who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isa. 57:15
C. you’re confusing me v.8-17
you made me, why are you trying to destroy me; I must be more valuable than that (God is rational)
no question in Job’s mind where he came from, his ancestors didn’t live in the jungle
fully convinced he owed his origin, his birth and subsequent blessing to God alone; but here’s the problem – if God was going to go to all that trouble, why treat him so badly later in life?
here’s another source of confusion – God showed him such kindness for so many years, why does it feel like God has turned on him, is now his enemy?
doesn’t have to be that you’ve lost everything like Job; may be just a single but staggering loss, perhaps something has come into your life that gradually overtakes everything else – has God suddenly become your enemy?
how do you come to terms with circumstances and God’s part in them if you are convinced that “The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.” WSC #7
and that “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” WSC #4
do you understand Job’s problem? his conflict? would you / have you asked God to explain himself? Go ahead, in the right spirit, prepared to accept God’s response when he chooses to give it
even in midst of struggle with circumstances, leaves door open for personal responsibility
evidence of Job’s sincerity when stated in v.2 – show me my sin and I’ll repent
good place to start, don’t wallow there – life still stinks, must mean God can’t forgive me; Job never went there
in fact, Job has made progress in understanding: no longer as strident in defending his innocence
still overwhelmed by suffering but, for a moment, moves on to a better question:
D. what is your purpose now v.18-22
“Why then have You brought me out of the womb?” (evidence clearly shows God acts with purpose)
given v.13, why this? “Yet You concealed these [thoughts] in Your heart; I know that this was Your hidden plan:” HCSB
Job can consider something beyond “why me?”, “why this?” and ask “to what end?”, “for what purpose?”
first two questions look back, aren’t really helpful; second two look forward, help suffering saint progress toward conformity to image of Lord Jesus
but,… had Job served God’s purpose, now being abandoned? is that why God wasn’t answering, was allowing his suffering
might be true, so Job prays a bad prayer – leave me alone; God answers with “no”, will not allow Job to descend again into pit of darkness and depression
was Job looking sideways at God, trying to see some evidence of hope? probably, since book continues another 30+ chapters
answering question of purpose gives hope to one who is suffering – if there is a purpose to your suffering, then you matter to God, your suffering matters to God, your questions matter to God
a life free of suffering not the highest priority for God; true, Job didn’t deserve his suffering, but neither did Jesus
Every instance of pain, every period of suffering a clear reminder that something is wrong with our world, we are helpless to fix it. We can lessen it, cannot make suffering go away, cannot erase it from experience. That’s where Job was – nothing could remove his past suffering, he and his friends were powerless to change his present suffering.
Jesus walking up the road, passed a blind man; disciples asked, “And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:2 Asked the question “why?”, Jesus answered “to what purpose” – Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:3
“Sometimes, as with the man born blind, the work of God is manifest through dramatic miracle. Sometimes it is not. But in every case, suffering offers an opportunity for us to display God’s work.” Where Is God When It Hurts, Philip Yancey
what about suffering in Ukraine? those on the plane that disappeared, and their families? those of you present this morning in the middle of intense suffering? these are all in-your-face reminders we live in a broken world. So where do we look for hope?
Lord Jesus has won victory over causes of pain and suffering – Satan, sin, at the root of all brokenness in the world. He did that at the cost of his own suffering – obedient unto death, even death on the cross. When suffering causes us to look to Christ and praise him for the victory he has won, our suffering has purpose. When God sustains his child through suffering and receives the glory, suffering has purpose. When suffering brings people to the end of their personal resources and compels them to turn to Christ, suffering has purpose. When like Job, our perseverance through suffering by relying on God encourages our brothers and sisters, it has purpose.