Beach Talk 2014
What do you do when the challenges of life come and things do not go our way?
“God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.” Job 37:5
Job-Key verses: 1:8; 27:2-4; 37:5; 42:12
Timeline: Perhaps between 2000 – 1500 B.C. Job’s date is a mystery and possibly predates or is in the time of the Patriarchs as he is the family priest and has a long life. This is one of the oldest books in the Bible.
The Book of Job is about the struggle and suffering of humanity in a sinful world against the backdrop of God’s Sovereignty.
The central character is Job, a man of faith who had extreme wealth and literally lost it all. He did not deserve his suffering. He also had to deal with the various reactions and obtuse conversations with his friends who do not understand what God was doing. Their thinking, like many today is, “God blesses the faithful, so what happens is what you deserve or you sinned.” God does bless the faithful, wicked people do prosper and there are exceptions.
We are presented with a view of suffering and the bigger plan of God, where the question is not answered; rather, only God knows the ‘why’. We are to trust and rely on God’s Sovereignty.
There are so many questions to answer:
Why is there suffering?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why does God’s faithful suffer?
Where is God when life hurts?
The simple answer is God is here, He knows, and He cares!
Because, and life is not about our ideas and comforts or our plans and will; rather, we were created to know God and live for the Lord no matter what comes our way. Life is about our relationship to God and to one another, it is not about our jobs, money, cars, sex, power or even health. These are mere tools, not what life is meant to be about.
What do we do with the challenges of life when things do not go our way?
James gives us a clue in this phrase: Perseverance or patience of Job, the theme of this Book, means ‘endurance,’ as Job went through great sufferings, and he persevered. It is about one’s persistence in the face of adversity and confusion, when we can’t see what the game plan is or even the light at the end of the tunnel; yet, we trust in God and actively ‘hang in’ there anyway (James 5:11).
This is not hanging by doing nothing; rather it is hanging in the midst with all we can do.
By action and of faith, even with our fears, doubts, frustrations, and questions, so we can persevere. James uses this phrase to communicate encouragement for our staying power, as in “you can do it, too!” When God seems far away and no one seems to care about injustice or your concerns, God is still there caring! He will vindicate you and care for you. So, we can run and fight and do our best in dire times (Job. 42:6-12)!
Meanwhile the main enemy of God and humanity is at work!
Satan, his name means “the accuser” and is in direct contrast to Jesus who is Our Advocate. Satan is the accuser of those who are righteous. He is a “false accuser,” who throws things at other people to accuse, slander, and lead astray. He acts like a prosecuting attorney before God’s court to those he knows are innocent. In contrast, Jesus is the Defense Attorney. Satan is the “adversary;” he is the Chief Adversary both to God and to humans. Most likely, Satan no longer is able to go before God and accuse us because he has been thrown out of Heaven. At any result or rule, he does not have sway over a person of faith (1 Chron. 21:1; Job 1:2-12; Job 16; Zech. 3:1-2; Matt. 4:10; 13:39; Luke 22:31; John 13:2; 16:11; Eph. 6:11; Rev. 12:10).
We have the responses
What many Christians here today give too, when we go though the difficulties that others can’t’ wrap their heads on. When we are sitting on our mat asking what happened, what went wrong, we hear these classic responses:
• Eliphaz the Temanite. The first to respond, and probably the oldest, Eliphaz talks with fatherly wisdom from his experiences and theologizes Job’s situation without much compassion; he tells Job he got what he deserved. While Eliphaz has good knowledge, he is driven by assumptions and doe not real wisdom. Job is stating his just case and rightly rejects his advice (Job 4:8; 6-7).
• Bilbdad the Shuhite. He draws his insight from tradition and logic and also states that Job suffers justly as a result of sin. This is probably why none of them helped him when we can assume Job was generous with them (Job 8:2-4; 9-10).
• Zophar the Naamathite. Although he does ask Job to repent, he is also filled with assumptions. Zophar does not analyze or give advice; rather he insults Job. He kicks the man while he is down. He does not consider God may be up to something beyond their limited knowledge (Job 11).
• Elihu. He waits patiently, is probably the youngest, and is brash. He attacks Job and the rest of them, too. He thinks it is God’s discipline (Job 32:4; 32-37; 37:5).
So, they think it is all Job’s fault. Perhaps you find yourself in these situations, you try, and try, to do your best and fail anyway, or something bad just happens, and then get the blame.
Let’s look what they think Job did, it is all about sin.
Sin means to go against God, to miss His mark and thus be separated from Him. We tend to govern our lives by what we want, not always what is best for us. This theme beckons us to seek what God wants. You may think, hey, this is my life, and I can do what I want. Yes, you are right; and, yes, you can. However, God is intimately involved with us. God is no cosmic idea. He is our personal, loving God! So, you see, only an extremely arrogant, prideful, and dim-witted person would say Yes, I can do it on my own! God sees it all. He has the big picture of how all things in life throughout all of time and all persons are interwoven in His tapestry of love and redemption.
Do not seek to be a person who is a loose thread and liable to be unwoven (Eph. 6:12; James 4: 13-17)!
But, we do live in a sinful, fallen world and others bad choices, the corruption of all there is will converge upon us. The key is, what do I learn, what did I do, what do I need to do?
Sometimes, God has to get our attention through adversity.
Sometimes, we don’t have a willingness to listen.
Sometimes, we stop growing.
Sometimes, God has to break our pride and reorder our misplaced priorities.
Sometimes, others sin hits us too.
Sometimes, God is doing a work we do not understand yet.
The key is how we are able to receive Christ as LORD. Are we able and willing to understand?
Sometimes, our willingness and ability to understand does not come until eternity as it was with Job. The key is to trust and know He is in control; He will be there with us carrying us through. It is not about understanding ourselves; this is about understanding Him. Ask Christ to show you His deep hidden treasures, and be willing to listen and grow (1 Peter 1: 3-12; James 5: 7-12).
What do I do when I am in a trial?
When the storm clouds begin to form, it is not a time to be impatient. This is not a time to deny and ignore it, hoping it will go away. This is a time to seek Christ’s face in surrendered devotion and prayer. Use the time to seek the reason. Maybe you made a bad decision. Maybe you followed some bad advice. Perhaps, you have stopped growing-really growing-in faith and practice and service unto the Lord. Maybe you cannot find the reason; Job did not. We do know that God wants our attention. So, if you took a careful look inside yourself, immersed yourself in prayer and sought Godly advice, and still find no reason, please don’t get hung up on seeking the reason. Maybe He does not want you to know it, or you are not ready for it.
However, in many cases, the reason is in plain sight. We just need to get the distractions of fear, personal will, and expectations out of the way so that we can see it.
• You have a choice: Become better or bitter. (Job 21 :25 Heb 12:15) How can I avoid bitterness? Accept what cannot be changed (Job 11:13,16) Focus on what you still have, not what you have lost (1 Thess. 5:18).
• Remember what is important in life. Guess what? The important things do not include our things and our “stuff”. The important things are not our careers, education, looks, toys, power, or status. The important stuff in life? Relationships, not possessions, matter (Luke 12:15; 1 Tim. 6:7).
• Focus on Christ. This is the secret reservoir of strength which we may access completely and fully. This gives us the perseverance in tough times (Phil. 4:13).
• Place your trust and reliance upon Christ; this is where your stability comes from. (Isa. 26:3 Ps.112: 6.7; 125:1)
• Learn to listen. Listen to our Lord through your prayer and devotions. Listen to God-breathed wisdom and advice from the Bible. Seek the advice of wise friends and leaders who love the Lord. This is where our direction comes from (Jer. 29:11).
• God is our Redemption! Because of what He did, we can draw our strength from Him and rest in His protection. Remember, He always helps in times of trouble. If you do not see it, you are not looking (Psalm 46:2).
What do we do when others are in trials?
Be a church! Pray for them! Help them!
We can honor people who have been triumphant in suffering because it is encouraging to us because we have examples. When we witness perseverance in faith, we know we can, too! Yes, this means you! Whatever may be attempting to derail your faith or trying to move you off God’s path–spiritual warfare, toxic family members, disgruntled work situations, a debilitating illness–we can carry on because He appropriates us for a purpose; He carries us through!
What are we not to do?
We are not to make haphazard plans; we are not to forego personal examination or scorn wisdom. There are many passages that exhort us to plan carefully and effectively (this is the purpose of the Wisdom Books). Rather, the point is not to ‘do life’ without putting God first and foremost! We must be in His process, not ours, because He is personal and involved with us.
Where is Jesus Christ in this? God’s Sovereignty trumps our plight, because as Job proclaims, My Redeemer Lives! Jesus is shown by the Need of His work as Redeemer and Mediator. Jesus is the one who ultimately suffers, ultimately in our place (Job. 9:23, 33; 19:25-27; 33:23-24).
What are the true blessings and riches? How do they echo into eternity? How does this make you feel? How does this strengthen you?
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:13
© 2014, R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org