Look around the world and is pretty hard to find another place more attractive than right here and our neighbor to the north. That’s true by lots of measures: personal freedom, opportunities for advancement, religious liberty, access to good literature, you name it – almost impossible to beat what we enjoy. Don’t worry, not a rah-rah-wrap-yourself-in-the-flag kind of sermon! With the “good life” so accessible, wouldn’t expect to find a lot of negativity, right??
Reality is that there’s movie titled “Life Stinks”, books by similar title with suggestions on how to fix it. Have at least overheard the unofficial contests: your life stinks, yeah, well, mine stinks way worse! Easy to lose patience…saw bumper sticker the other day “Stop Global Whining”! What a relief that would be! Want to tell folks to just deal with it, quit bellyaching, get on with life, do the right thing.
Last week, Sunday School, Billie Hanks Jr. song “Lonely Voices Crying in the City”, goes on to talk about lonely faces, lonely eyes. Could just as easily and accurately say: hurting voices, hurting faces, hurting eyes. Surrounded by people whose world is upside down, either because of own poor choices, or…like Job, because God has turned their world upside down. Circumstances may be little different, needs much the same. Your circumstances may not be exactly like Job, but…your needs and solution to them is same.
Job longed for the past good that was missing but refused to live in past – did good job evaluating present reality (to best of ability). Unlike lots of people, Job didn’t deny seriousness of his present situation – faced it head-on even though he couldn’t understand it. His trip down memory lane abruptly ended, turns back to current situation, continues speaking to whoever would listen apart from 3 friends. Job is done interacting with them since they proved worthless counselors; looks beyond to see if any sympathetic listeners who can / will supply genuine comfort and help.
Job, in his discourse, invites the reader to enter into his affliction with him – that’s you and me – and he expects a response. To fully listen to Job speak demands something from the listener: write him off as crazy or exaggerating or trying to get attention; hear what he says but refuse to get involved (not my problem, you figure it out); or, like Good Samaritan, get involved. Same holds true for those who are hurting, perhaps you, in your present circumstances.
A. life stinks
several stops on his trip down memory lane; reaches end, groans “but now…this is way it is” – each of previous positives in life now a negative
even if you don’t feel like you should change your name to Job, there may be parallels – ways your life stinks just like Job
“I have no respect” (30:1–15, see 29:7–11)
not stand-up comedy, one-liners for a laugh; Job was real deal, deserving of respect – had enjoyed genuine respect and honor from young and old, rich and poor
talk about tables being turned: outcasts, those polite society banishes to the margins now treat Job the way they have been treated; who are they?…
the weak (2), sick and hungry (3), scavenging for food (4) driven out of society (5a), shouted at like thieves (5b), homeless (6-7), not having a legitimate identity (8)
Job in such dire circumstances, is farther down the social scale than the outcasts – ridiculed and treated as untouchable by the untouchables (9-10)
obvious from their treatment of him they respected Job for his position, not his personal integrity; respected him for what he could do for them, not because he feared God and turned away from evil
irony is they could have had same kind of integrity Job had regardless of their circumstances;
good question to ask: when you see homeless person, someone using EBT card, in line at soup kitchen or food pantry, participating on one program or another, what comes first to your mind – their circumstances or their character; and which forms basis for how you treat them?
lots of different things traveling around media lately – all portray some form of harsh treatment either toward animals or other human beings: kicking the dog simply because they can
that’s how Job felt like he was being treated: outcasts, even, refused any contact; spat at him; showed no restraint around him; make his miserable circumstances even more difficult; seek to destroy what little honor he had left
“I have no blessing” (30:16–23, see 29:2–6)
you’ve either heard (or said it yourself): “guess I have a lot to be thankful for when I see someone like that; don’t have to look far to see someone worse off than I am”
Job couldn’t do that; no matter where he looked, no one in as dire circumstances as he was – could find no positives
previously life had been full of God’s blessing and blessings from neighbors; now is complete opposite
days can be bearable if night brings respite, rest from suffering – Job’s days are miserable, nights are even worse (16-17)
all-night wrestling match with God – picked up, slammed down, trampled in the mud with no relief (18-19)
prayers go unanswered, maybe unheard too, Job can’t be sure which it is; all he knows is God is silent (20)
Job felt like under constant attack – on all sides – from all people – and God; even the God on whom he depended and who he worshiped has become cruel to him
“I have no help” (30:24–25, see 29:12–17)
Mark Twain wrote, “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
Job had actively helped many, invested time and effort and resources in many who now at best ignored him, at worst turned against him
Job didn’t figure they owed him, that wasn’t why he helped – Missionary doctor Wilfred Grenfell said, “The service we render for others is really the rent we pay for our room on this earth.”
for one whose primary focus in life was to help others, this one especially stung – that ones he helped up kicked him when he was down, a broken man
“I have no future” (30:26–28, see 29:18–20)
everywhere he expected good, received evil in its place; darkness and confusion instead of light; turmoil rather than the peace he looked for (26)
“The churning inside me never stops” NIV speaking with someone other day, very stressful situation – nerves and anxiety and uncertainty made them physically ill, sick to their stomach; Job’s churning didn’t stop (27)
everywhere Job turned for help, he found none – a broken man by every measure, no visible source of hope anywhere
was as if he had been given death sentence by family, doctor, society, even God; only thing left – run out the days in frustration and misery
“I have no ministry” (30:29–31, see 29:21–25)
what was once nearly the center of his daily life – service to others, and by it service to God – has been stripped from him (29-30)
from his perspective…absolutely alone, isolated from human help and companions, singing a song no one wants to hear – a minor key, more suited for funeral than celebration (31)
hard to impossible for Job to find hope for himself, could not come up with encouragement for anyone else
on horizontal perspective – this is what troubled Job the most: why go on living if he could have no ministry, if he had no resources to share with someone else in need
don’t forget, times for believer and unbeliever alike: life really stinks; there is real pain, real injustice, real feeling of abandonment by God – to be truly compassionate, must “feel with” the other person, not simply analyze from a safe distance (like E, B, Z after first week)
how do you keep on going? if denial isn’t an option, if you can’t simply lay down and die, then what?
thank God we have source of encouragement that wasn’t available to Job: letter written to the Hebrews, but first the context
Isa. 53:3-12He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.…He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; …By oppression and judgment he was taken away; …they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; …he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Job experienced sufferings similar to those of our Lord Jesus Christ. The basest of people falsely accused Him (Matt. 26:59–64), spat upon Him (v. 67), and ridiculed Him while He was suffering (Luke 23:35–39); and He became “the song of the drunkards” (Ps. 69:12). Wiersbe
why did Jesus do that? why did he endure all that? because he loves you and me; why does Jesus endure ridicule still today? because he still loves sinners and is determined to save them from their sin
andHeb. 12:1-3Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Is life hard for you today in one or more ways? Can you really sympathize with Job, honestly say “I feel your pain”? If so, look to Jesus; consider him…so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Consider him well, think it over long and hard what Jesus endured for you and what he accomplished for you, ponder on those great and glorious truths…and take heart! He purchased your inheritance, it’s waiting for you…guaranteed.
Is life hard for someone you know today? Can they sympathize with Job? Point them to Jesus. If they are Christian brother or sister, remind them of Jesus suffering, and of the inheritance he purchased for them. Remind them of the future that awaits them in heaven. If they don’t know Jesus, help them along their way; introduce them to the only one who can give genuine hope and help.