O That I Could Find Him

Job 23

When Schia was 4 years old, her baby brother was born. Little Schia began to ask her parents to leave her alone with the new baby. They worried that, like most 4-year-olds, she might want to hit or shake him, so they said no. Over time, though, since Schia wasn’t showing signs of jealousy, they changed their minds and decided to let Schia have her private conference with the baby.

Elated, Schia went into the baby’s room and shut the door, but it opened a crack–enough for her curious parents to peek in and listen. They saw little Schia walk quietly up to her baby brother, put her face close to his, and say, “Baby, tell me what God feels like. I’m starting to forget.””

Even when we don’t forget what God feels like, times in life when we have desire for the way it used to be – for relationship with God to be what it once was. Perhaps like Job, what feels like distance between you and God is really not your fault. Where is God? You need his affirmation. Like young child temporarily separated from parent, you need that security check – need to be reminded what God feels like and that all is ok between you.

Job unique (maybe) in sense that his suffering way more intense than average. Was like God and life had ganged up on him, doing their best to overwhelm. Satan was using all his weapons to crush Job’s faith in God, show Job’s insincerity. You may not be living Job’s life, may only have portion of kind of suffering he experienced, Satan’s only using light weapons against you. Need is the same, source of help the same, regardless of intensity of experience.

Need is for reassurance, restored conviction that God is not the enemy, that he is accessible and will speak to you. In his quest for that, Job faced three obstacles (expressed in our text this way): God’s hand is heavy; God is hiding; God frightens me.

A. 1st obstacle: God’s hand is heavy v.2

you think my complaining is over the top, you ought to feel what I’m feeling – God is pushing me down, pushing me away

is a sense of oppression that goes far beyond simply physical weight – feels like that plus weight that bears on your heart / soul

Job had it all – physical torment, mental anguish, emotional suffering, spiritual darkness; one is enough to send some over the edge

day after day, night after night, sense of loss and grief bore down until had no energy, no will to do much more than simply survive one moment at a time

important note: Job’s greatest suffering did not come from his boils; source of his great distress was kind of thing that doesn’t leave marks

emotional and spiritual hurts may have some physical symptoms but greatest wounds cannot be seen

unjust treatment by friends, abandonment by those you have helped, most seriously: total silence from God – those hurts don’t leave bruises or scabs or physical scars

are surrounded by the walking wounded – in here and out there – there is one greater than Job who really feels your pain

in spite of friends’ attempts to help, Job handled his suffering well – understood there was One above all others who could help

who could set the record straight (and he did); who could provide comfort for his grief (and he did), who could provide healing for his wounds (and he did)

Job didn’t have perfect confidence all through his suffering; some of the time, nearly at point of despair and utter hopelessness

but….here’s why God won and Satan lost: Job never looked to anyone other than God for his help, even when he believed God was his enemy

Job’s friends alive and well today: more people with more ideas than you could ever count – if you do this or try that or forget God altogether, you’ll be ok

Job would have none of that – Job (and we should be like him) would not be satisfied with anything less than God

beware: people who delight in God and are satisfied in him are often magnets for others who are hurting – they know what you have is what they need, don’t let them down

help them understand if God’s hand is heavy, purpose could be to give them nowhere to look but up; make sure they see true God, not a cheap imitation

B. 2nd obstacle: God is hiding v.3, 8-9

I know he’s there but I cannot find him, no matter where I search – Job looking for God, hadn’t given up, wasn’t sitting still even though failing in his search

shared sentiment with David: (call to worship) Psa. 63:1“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

can almost hear frustration in Job’s voice as he complains about not being able to find God – searches in every direction but to no avail

what adds to frustration: can see evidence of God at work, cannot see God; knows God must be there, is confident that God sees him

deer hunting, come to nice track; must be big buck, at least 12-pointer, one you can really brag about; begin carefully following track, can see it’s just minutes old, must be getting closer, maybe almost within sight; surroundings begin to look familiar, deer track now superimposed on boot track, yours! and then disappears; buck had knowingly led you around in big circle, had his fun, moved on to next adventure

Job feeling similarly: like God is leading him on, staying just out of sight – giving enough evidence of his presence so Job didn’t give up but not satisfying him either

might think that’s mean but it isn’t: God didn’t allow Job to fall in on himself, didn’t keep his hiddenness absolute

allowed Job to see enough evidence of true God nearby so he didn’t lose all hope; God wasn’t toying with Job, was actually encouraging him in his search – “when he works on the left hand”: he really is there

C. 3rd obstacle: God frightens me v.15-16

certainly true if you have older siblings – remember when they displeased Dad, you saw/heard the results

God is powerful, immovable, I’ve seen what happens to his enemies – we should be terrified of God’s anger

is Job having second thoughts? he’s ok when thinking about how he would make his case before God….but what if he loses?

instant terror – like Belshazzar’s knees knocking when saw hand tracing out letters on the wall; Daniel’s God-sent visions that were almost nightmares

not a popular way of thinking about God these days, but we should be terrified of God’s anger, in fear of Him when He is displaying His just anger, even though not directed at us

don’t agree?? same God on his throne today who obliterated entire population of planet save 8 souls, rearranged its surface completely because of mankind’s sin

think it’s just an OT thing? that God of NT is all warm and fuzzy and never displays his righteous anger?

remember Ananias and Sapphira? immediate consequences from God, death, because of their deceit; and the result ==> “So great fear came upon the church and upon all who heard these things” (Acts 5:11)

how about Herod, who killed John’s brother James? “Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.” (Acts 12:23)

Job acknowledged God’s absolute sovereign rule over all things; even though he believed God should not be angry with him, that God knew his righteous way, wasn’t absolutely sure of it

contrary to accusations of his friends, Job’s fear of God a sign of humility; didn’t think he had displeased God but was humble enough to leave the possibility open

D. Where is there hope? How to handle this cross?

so when God’s hand is unberably heavy, he cannot be found, his actions cause you to fear – where can you find hope? how can you handle that cross in a way pleasing to God?

for starters, two promises given to people of God – one through prophet Jeremiah, other by Jesus himself

Jer. 29:13You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart,”

Matt. 7:7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

the person who seeks after God, not a substitute, not insincerely, who seeks diligently and humbly will find him

Let’s take it to the next level: God’s hand was heavy on Christ; God the Father hid from God the Son

Stricken, smitten, and afflicted, / See him dying on the tree! / ‘Tis the Christ by man rejected; / Yes, my soul, ’tis he, ’tis he. / ‘Tis the long-expected Prophet, / David’s Son, yet David’s Lord.

Many hands were raised to wound him, / None would interpose to save; / But the deepest stroke that pierced him / Was the stroke that Justice gave.

“the sufferer may look for saving deliverance from his own trouble to the Christ who suffered for him.” W.F.Adeney

Ye who think of sin but lightly / Nor suppose the evil great / Here may view its nature rightly, / Here its guilt may estimate. / Mark the Sacrifice appointed, / See who bears the awful load; / ‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed, / Son of Man and Son of God.

Often easy to look at someone else, say “they have strong faith, they’ll make it through this trial”. What about when it’s you in the refiner’s fire? Can you say with job “When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold”? That kind of confidence based on truth expressed in Job 19:25-27 “I KNOW MY REDEEMER LIVES”.

One last encouragement to keep seeking the Lord Jesus:

John 20:11-16But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

If you seek him, you will find him; he will not pass you by while he is calling on others.

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