Pain and Suffering?: Part 1 of 3

by John Lowe
(Laurens, SC)

25 January 2006

Scripture Reading: Job 1:13-22

This evening I am going to talk about pain and suffering and how to face trouble, because from the cradle to the cemetery, we spend much of our existence trying to avoid pain and stay out of trouble.

The longer we live, the more likely it is that we will have physical problems. I know that many of you are sick and hurting. When you get up in the morning your body begins to tell you- maybe you should have stayed in bed. So you are all familiar with the topic of our message; “Pain and Suffering?”, because you have all experienced pain and suffering and overwhelming trouble.

If you watch television commercials, you have probably noticed that many of them offer advice about how to manage pain; they advertise Tylenol, Advil, and a dozen other pain relievers. However, such solutions are only temporary.

Some people try to escape pain through drugs and alcohol, but they find that their pain increases rather than disappears. Still others patiently just “grin and bear” their pain, and act like everything is alright.

Satan uses pain to make people doubt God’s goodness. He wants to inject doubt into our minds until we distrust the character and behavior of our heavenly Father. Satan seeks to promote bitterness and hate because of pain. We must beware of the strategies of the evil one; he is out to destroy us because he is the enemy of God and our enemy as well. If Satan can make us angry at God or make us react with bitterness and hostility toward either God or others, he is leading us down a path of self-destruction.

I want to ask a question: “Is there any good news for those who suffer?” In times when trouble strikes, we need to take an inventory to see if there is any good news that can cheer us up and help us to bear the burden of pain.

Trouble and suffering are facts of life that all of us must cope with sooner or later. An incurable disease may afflict someone we love or even us personally. A financial disaster may wipe out our savings and take our homes. The things we worked all our lives for can be destroyed by fire in a matter of minutes. A domestic tragedy, such as divorce, may tear apart our home. There are fatal accidents on life’s highways. There are dead-end streets where all hopeful expectations are brought to a stop. So, “How should Christians cope with suffering and trouble?”

When trouble comes, some people turn to religion, hoping it will deepen and strengthen their faith. Others turn away from religion in disappointment and despair. Still, others turn against religion in hate and cynicism.

How do people cope with pain and trouble? Some bluster and bluff and cuss, and act like there is nothing wrong. Some develop a headache and take an aspirin. Some drink or take drugs that enable them to escape the pain of reality temporarily. Some pray and trust God.

What will you do when trouble comes? Will you turn to God? Will you run from God? Will you turn against God?

Let’s take a look at Job, the ultimate example of a man who struggled with suffering in the times before Christ. Job 1:13-22 is our Scriptures for today. I am going to read from the New Century Bible, but first I will give you some background.

The Bible tells us that—One day the angels came into the presence of God, and Satan was with them. God asked Satan, “What have you been doing?” Satan replied, “I have been claiming the earth for myself.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Do you know about my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him. He is an honest and innocent man, and he honors God and stays away from evil.” But Satan answers back, “Job honors God for a good reason. You have put a wall around him and his family, and everything he owns. I can’t touch him. You have blessed the things he has done. His flocks and herds are so large they almost cover the land. But if you would destroy everything he has, he will curse you to your face.” So the Lord accepted the challenge and said to Satan, “All right, then. You can do anything you want to Job, but you must not touch Job himself.”

Then Satan left heaven and returned to earth. The Bible says-

13 Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house;
14 and a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them,
15 when the Sabeans raided them and took them away—indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
16 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
17 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels and took them away, yes, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,
19 and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!”
20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.
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 be the name of the Lord.”

And the last verse says.
22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

Let’s begin by looking at several aspects of Job’s character to see what kind of man he was.

First, Job is a dramatic illustration of one who experienced undeserved suffering. He is an example of how the innocent can suffer. These verses which we read, tell us four things about Job’s character that we should consider:

First, Job was a blameless man. Verse 1 says, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect…” He was blameless in the eyes of God, in the eyes of others, and in his own eyes. Job was a man just like you and me, only better. He was a praiseworthy man, an important man and a man of distinction, a judge, and a man who had authority over others. The country he lived in was the land of Uz, in the eastern part of Arabia; the same place where Abraham lived before God called him out of that place. This was a very wicked land, but it was to Job’s praise that he was so exceedingly good in such a bad place.

Second, Job was upright. Verse 1 says, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was upright…” This means that he was straightforward and genuine and right in his relationships. He was a very good man, extremely religious, and better than his neighbors.

Third, Job feared God. Verse 1 also says, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man feared God…” He was a reverent worshiper of God as far as he was able to understand Him. He was sincere in his religion. He was called perfect by God; but he was not sinless as he was later to admit. He said, “If I say I am perfect, I shall be proven wicked.” He respected all of God’s commandments, and tried his best to keep them. He was really as good as he seemed to be.

And fourth, Job was a man who turned away from evil. Verse 8 says, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God, and turns his back on evil?”

There was no compromise in this man’s life. Notice the question that God put to Satan: “Have you considered my servant Job?” God speaks of him in an honorable way: He said that he is a servant. And, just like Job, godly men and women are God’s servants. God said, “Look at him. There is none like him, none that I value like him, and none that have such great faith.”

Satan hates every child of God and he will do everything in his power to hurt us. We can take comfort, however, because Satan cannot harm us more than God will allow. The suffering of Job is a good example of this, because in the book of Job we read that Satan had to ask permission from God to harm Job, because he said, “I can’t touch him because you have a hedge around him.” God allowed the devil to test Job, but put limits on what he could do.

Well, Job was certainly a good man, but next, let’s look at his position in his family and the community he lived in. Job lived in a time when people commonly believed that anyone who was good would be happy and prosperous. He fit the times, because he was a good man, and he was also happy and prosperous. There are five statements that can be made about his position within the community where he lived:

First, Job was the best of the best; there was no one else like him.

Second, Job enjoyed great wealth.

Third, Job had a wonderful family.

Forth, Job was a priest in his own household.

And fifth, Job was the epitome of success and happiness.

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