How do you face trouble? Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
First, Job suffered the loss of property (1:14-17).
This is how it happened: “A messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were eating grass nearby when the Sabeans attacked and carried them away. They killed the servants with swords, and I am the only one who escaped to tell you!”
The messenger was still speaking when another messenger arrived and said, “Lightning from God fell from the sky. It burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who escaped to tell you!”
The second messenger was still speaking when another messenger arrived and said, “The Babylonians sent three groups of attackers that swept down and stole your camels and killed the servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you!”
Job lost all that he had. He had 500 yokes of oxen and 500 donkeys and he lost them all at once, along with the servants who cared for them. They were taken by his neighbors, the Sabeans, and it was Satan who put the thought into their minds to do it. He had 7000 sheep and they were killed by lightning, and the shepherds were killed at the same time. In this case, Job was told that the destruction came from heaven and that made it even more terrible because he looked upon that as a sign of God’s displeasure with him. He had 3000 camels and the servants who tended them, and he lost them all at the same time when the Chaldeans drove them off and slew the servants. Perhaps Job questioned why the wicked robbers prospered while he suffered this great loss.
Second, Job suffered the tragic death of his children (1:18-19).
His dearest and most valuable possessions were his ten children; and, to conclude the tragedy, news was brought to him that they were killed and burned in the house where they were celebrating. This was the greatest of Job’s losses, therefore the devil kept it for the last.
Next, Job experienced the loss of his health (2:7-8).
The devil has done all of this for one reason so that Job will curse God. And now he provokes him even more by smiting him with painful boils. They covered him from head to foot. They were so severe that there was no way he could position himself to get relief. As bad as his condition was, his treatment for it was nothing less than strange. Instead of applying healing salves, he took a piece of broken pottery and scrapped himself with it. He has to tend to these boils himself because his children and servants are dead and his wife is unsympathetic toward him. He has lost all his wealth, so he can’t go to a doctor. Even his former friends have refused to lend him a hand; to dress or wipe his running sores. All that he does to his sores is to scrape them. Finally, instead of lying down in a soft, warm bed, he sets down among the ashes; perhaps to wait to die.
Job suffered the loss of his possessions and his health, and then he experienced bad council and advice from his wife (2:9). Here are some of the most hurtful words I have ever heard. After all, that Job had gone through his wife said, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Satan had spared her, when everything else had been taken away, for this purpose, to further trouble and tempt him.
First, she attacks his faithfulness to his religion when she asks, “Do you still have your integrity?” In other words, she is saying, “Is this a God to be still loved, and blessed, and served". She urges him to renounce his religion and curse God. She says, “Curse God and die.” She pushes for him to become independent from God and to find his own relief through suicide; to end his trouble by ending his life.
Last, of all, Job endured the frustration of sincere friends who blundered in their efforts to comfort and counsel him.
Nevertheless, we should recognize that Job was fortunate in some respects. First, his friends did come to him. And that required great effort on their part. Then they sat in silence with him for seven days. Sometimes silence is the best way to support someone who is suffering. And when they did speak, they gave the best advice they knew how to give.
Basically, they said to him, “Job, acknowledge your sinfulness. Admit your hypocrisy. Confess your secret sins.”
Job’s friends were philosophers and thinkers, and they offered him the best advice they knew for the complex problems he faced. Job and his friends believed that suffering was the result of sin and that people who suffered must have sinned.
In the midst of his pain, Job held on to his conviction regarding his personal integrity. He was convinced that he did not deserve the suffering he was experiencing. His suffering was totally out of proportion to any sin of which he might have been guilty.
We learn from the book of Job as we study it in its entirety that suffering is not always the result of sin. We also learn from the book of Job that God is often blamed for tragedies and catastrophes and hurts for which he is not responsible.
Job’s friends came to him with the suggestion that his sufferings were the unavoidable consequence of some great flaw in his character and in his beliefs and conduct. Job was patient in the sense that he held on to his since of integrity and denied that his sufferings were due to some great sin in his life.
When suffering comes to us, we must hold on to the conviction that God is love and then that God is good. We must believe that God always acts in conformity to His good character and does the right thing. How will you handle trouble? Will it bring you closer to Christ? Will it turn you away from Christ? Will it turn you against Christ?
Several suggestions may be helpful to us as we consider the possibility of suffering in the future.
First, let’s get acquainted with Christ as Savior and Teacher and Friend and Helper.
Let’s study the example of Jesus Christ as he dealt with the pain and suffering of others. And let’s be assured that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Before suffering comes, we need to develop some resources to assist us in times of trouble. In the same way that we take out liability or accident insurance, let’s take out some spiritual insurance. There are five things that we can do to prepare ourselves for future troubles:
First, we must develop the daily habit of a quiet time in which we let God speak to us from His Word.
Second, we must let prayer be a conversation with God in which we not only speak to him but let Him speak to us.
Third, we need to regularly participate in public worship and allow God to use this time to draw us closer to Him.
Forth, we need to develop genuine Christian friendships with other members of the family of God so they can be the medium of God’s ministry to us when trouble comes.
And fifth, we must expect the angels of God to come in our time of need.
In the meantime, we must not be anxious about trouble that may come in the future. Let’s determine to live now for the highest and the best under the leadership of the risen Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I believe that we can all relate to today’s lesson because I know that each of you has experienced sickness, and sorrow and discouragement. But the message is clear from our study today; you don’t have to suffer alone. God will help; Jesus will help; the Holy Spirit will help; Christian friends will help. I don’t know where you are at in your standing before the Lord, but I hope you will do what ever you need to do to prepare yourself for the future.
The first step may be to make Jesus your Savior. Let me know if I can assist you with prayer or council. Let’s pray now and thank God for giving us the best He had. He gave us Jesus; the best of the best.
Heavenly Father, we realize from our study of Job that we don’t always understand why we have troubles. We see others who appear to have everything going well in their lives, even though they are not concerned with the kingdom of God. Why do good people have trouble and bad people prosper? But Father, we know that your grace is sufficient to get us through every trouble that we come up against. And we know that at the end of our journey we have a heavenly home waiting, where there will be no more trouble and no more pain. Thank you, Father, for the blessed promises in your word. Bless us, Lord. And forgive us our sins. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.