Summary: This is the first in a series of 4 messages from the book of Job.

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(Begin series – “Life is Tough – God is Good”)

INTRO – What is your definition of a tough time? The toughest thing you could think of possibly going through? Well, guess what? That very thing could happen to you.

When I went to seminary at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 1986, 1 of the first things they told us during student orientation was that if a hurricane ever headed toward New Orleans, we needed to get out as fast as we could b/c there was the possibility – however remote – that if a hurricane hit, it would flood the city in an unbelievable catastrophic event. Water would be pulled out of the lake, levees could rupture, and b/c the city was constructed below sea level, the city would fill up like a bowl. Thought – “That would never happen.” And it didn’t happen while we were there, although Hurricane Florence, a very weak storm, did brush by New Orleans in 1988.

But 19 yrs. later, the unthinkable happened. This week as I worked in NO cleaning out vacated student apts. at the seminary, I saw the lingering effects of the tremendously tough times that Katrina has brought to hundreds of thousands of people. We had some measure of tough times here, but nothing compared to the immeasurable suffering & tough times that coastal residents are continuing to endure.

In a message entitled, “What Katrina Can Teach Us,” Max Lucado stated, “We were barely into the new millennium when we saw towers falling in NYC & planes crashing into the Pentagon & the PA farmland. We saw bombs over Baghdad & witnessed the ancient land of Abraham become a war zone. You’d think we had seen enough, but then came the tsunami – a roaring wave that sucked life & innocence out to sea. And now the fruits of Katrina. A city sitting in 20 ft. of water. Citizens hacking their way onto roofs & helicopters hovering over neighborhoods. Optimistic rescuers, opportunistic looters, grateful people, resentful people – we’ve seen it all.”

I disagree w/ Lucado on his last statement. We have NOT seen it all. I’m not a pessimist or a doomsday prophet, but we’ve not seen it all. And we won’t see it all until Jesus returns to take His people out of this sinful, suffering-laden world. Jesus Himself said in Jn. 16:33 – “In this world, you WILL have trouble…” So the question is: Are you ready for the tough times that will come into our lives? When the next hurricane or earthquake hits, the next bad doctor’s report comes in, the next family crisis or job loss comes, the next time your sense of support, safety & security is gone, will you be ready?

Job was a real biblical person who went through some of the most unimaginable tough times in anyone’s book. He was a man who was extremely successful by the world’s standards. He had great material wealth & enjoyed respect among his peers. He deeply loved his children & prayed for them constantly. He was a very devout believer who faithfully served God.

But as one commentator said, “Sooner or later, everyone identifies with Job” (David McKenna, Communicator’s Commentary, p.15). Here he is, losing nearly everything he had, dealing with some of the hardest things anyone could possibly deal with. How could he do it? How could he make it through these tough times?

Job was ready for the tough times b/c he was close to God.

Job’s faith wasn’t a “foxhole” faith, a faith he relied on only when times got tough. His faith wasn’t a faith of convenience, a Sunday morning-only faith. His faith wasn’t shallow & undeveloped. It wasn’t weak, wimpy, or wavering. It wasn’t like one wealthy businessman who said, “On the weekend, my priorities are God, family, & business. When I arrive at the office on Monday morning, the order is reversed.”

Job’s outward life did not contradict his inward faith. Rather, he was, according to God’s own statement about him in v. 8, “blameless & upright, a man who fears God & shuns evil.” “Job was not perfect or w/out sin…he had put his trust in God for redemption & faithfully lived a God-honoring, sincere life of integrity & consistency personally, maritally, & parentally” (MacArthur, MacArthur Study Bible, p. 697).

Simply put, Job was close to God. He walked w/ Him consistently, grew in his devotion & dedication to Him, his fear of Him, & his desire to walk in holiness before Him. This devotion to God did not prevent Job from experiencing tough times, but his devotion did prepare him for the tough times.

A deeply devoted relationship to God will not exempt you from going through the tough times that come. The tough times WILL come, either through the natural course of events or through direct assaults from Satan & his forces. The tough times might come to your life as the result of someone else’s sinful actions. The tough times might come when you are living as close to the Lord as you ever have, loving Him as passionately as you ever have, worshiping Him as fervently as you ever have, serving Him as faithfully as you ever have:

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