Summary: We all ask a lot of questions regarding suffering. Can I prevent suffering is the most common question. Outline: (1) Can I prevent suffering? No, even the righteous suffer. (2) Who causes suffering? Satan, but he’s on a leash held by God. (3) How

Title: Can I Prevent Suffering?

Text: Job 1.1-22

Series: Job: The Mystery of Suffering

Raymond Maurer

New Life Christian Church, Wixom, MI

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In 1741 an elderly stooped-over man wandered through the streets of London. Bystanders recognized this bum on his regular route. His angry mind raced back to the memories of the wonder years . . . For forty years the bachelor had written opera music that was adored by royalty in both England and Europe. He was honored and in-demand everywhere. Then things changed quickly and drastically. Fellow musicians became jealous and the royalty didn’t like his abrasive responses. A rival soon overtook his top spot.

If that were not enough, a cerebral hemorrhage paralyzed his right side. He could no longer write music. Doctors gave little hope for recovery. The old composer traveled to France and began to soak in baths rumored to have miraculous powers. Doctors warned him about staying in the scalding water for such long periods of time but he ignored their advice and gradually his weakened muscles began to receive new life. His health improved and he once again began to write. Soon, to his amazement, his works were being received with euphoric applause, and the honors again began to flow. But then he found himself in the pits once more after the death of Queen Caroline, who had been his loyal supporter.

On top of this, England found itself on hard economic times. Things were so bad they wouldn’t even spend money to warm a theater and his shows were canceled. He found himself again wandering aimlessly through the streets. And once again asking, where is God?

As he wondered home one day, he was shocked to find a wealthy gentleman waiting in his living room. The man was Charles Gibbon, who had startled England by rewriting Shakespeare. Gibbon explained that he had just finished writing a text for a musical that covered the entire Old and New Testament. He believed that the gifted musician was the man to set it to music. He gave the manuscript to the composer and challenged him to write. As he walked out the door, Gibbon turned long enough to say, “The Lord gave me those words.”

The great maestro scoffed to himself at the audacity of the young Gibbon. No one had ever challenged George Frederick Handel to write something he had not thought of first. Handel’s temper was violent, he was a dominating presence. Yet as he began to read the manuscript he was humbled and inspired by it. He read: “He was despised, rejected of men…he looked for someone to have pity on him, but there was no man; neither found he any to comfort him.” His eyes raced ahead: “He trusted in God…He will give you rest…O know that my redeemer lives… rejoice…hallelujah.”

He picked up his pen and began to write. Music seemed to flow through his mind as though it had been penned up for years. At age 57, Handel completed the Messiah in a mere 24 days. When the classical work was first performed in London, and the Hallelujah Chorus was reached, King George II stood because he was so moved.

(Robert Record. When Life is the Pits. Fleming H. Revell Co., 1987. 44-46. Sermon Central, John Hamby).

Like George Frederick Handel, Job’s life produced a masterpiece. The book of Job is a powerful classic. It’s a book that has the power make you stand in applause, and tear your clothes in anguish. It’s the classic work of God on the mystery of suffering.

As we read the book of Job, we are given behind-the-scenes information that Job never knew. Job struggled to understand the Mystery of Suffering. In the end it became clear that he wasn’t meant to understand all of the mysteries. Job endured tremendous suffering, yet he worshipped the Lord throughout. He said, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God (Job 19.25-26, NIV).

The book of Job isn’t about answering all of our questions. His friends tried to do this, and we’ll try to answer a few questions in this series, but part of suffering will always be a mystery…that’s the lesson of this book.

We live in an era that is obsessed with getting the answers to all of our questions. With all of the technology at our fingertips we almost expect that we’ll soon be able to control things that used to be a mystery. We’re not going to answer all of your questions. But the book of Job clearly answers some questions.


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