Summary: The problem with saying the right thing at the wrong time when we minister to the suffering.
1. The book of Job is a hard book to follow. I find it a hard book to read and to preach about, at least in the way I normally would read and preach. The book is part of the bible called the wisdom writings - - written by wise men who tried to present the truth through debate. They won their debates not through a logical presentation of their views but rather through their rhetoric, their skill in using words.
2. Most of Job is a debate between Job and friends and Job to God. As such the speakers jump from point to point, repeat themselves, ignore what another says until chapters later and they often talk past each other.
3. Perhaps this is appropriate because the book is about the difficulty we have in understanding the ways of God. Job is hard to study book reading chapter at a time. Instead need to consider some themes and teachings and go throughout the book to deal with them.
4. This fall, probably in the evenings, we will be looking at some of the themes and teachings in Job. Begin this morning to give sample of teachings and to invite you to join in September as we continue journey in Job.
5. Message of Job hard but of great importance for it deals with major and yet personal aspects of faith. - things like why we suffer, why we seek to live righteous lives, how we respond to suffering - that of ourselves and that of others, the nature or character of God and the nature of man, issues like justice and why it often seems to be absent.
6. Today we consider one theme that is perhaps less personal than some and which can stand apart from the others. Today we consider the importance of how we respond or minister to the suffering of a friend or loved one in our fellowship.
1. How do we respond to the suffering or struggles of those we know?
a. One way is to ignore it and stay away from it. We feel awkward and don’t know what to do or say - and so we keep our distance from the one who suffering. We pretend we don’t see them when we pass them after church.
b. Or we feel we have to make things right for them - we have to find out why things have happened to them and help them see why so they can get through the suffering and get over it. And so when we talk to a person who lost a loved one "Don’t worry, he’s with God" or to someone who si discouraged "Don’t worry, god will take care of you". We speak words of truth which we know should help the person
c. But often how we react to another who si suffering is based on our own understandings and discomfort with suffering itself . I believe this is what we are told in Job 12:5
2. When we see the feet of friends slipping out from under them we feel contempt or we hate what we see happening. We loved the person and cared for him or her, we may have respected the person, but know things have changed.
a. Perhaps we feel guilty that it wasn’t us, perhaps we feel helpless.
b. Perhaps we need to know why. What caused the problem? Why has God allowed this to happen?
3. For do we see misfortune much the same way that the friends of Job did? As a withdrawal of God’s blessing from that person or perhaps even a curse. Or we see it as a natural consequence of that person’s wrong behaviour.
4. As Christians we believe in God and we seek to understand Him and how He operates. As we do we build a safe package of understanding God that helps us to explain something.
5. When a non-believer suffers, we say see "That’s what happens when you don’t put your trust in God" or when child of Christian could doesn’t attend church, we can say "They didn’t teach Him enough" or "That shows how little god really means in that family."
6. We all have a preset- packages of understanding. Makes it easy - don’t need to struggle with things - pull out answer and can go on with easier things in life.
7. Like loading car for vacation and things don’t fit. It is frustrating - need to arrange so we can go on and enjoy the journey.
8. It is especially hard to explain why those who we see as "good" Christians go through hardships. We need to find answer to explain it so we don’t shake up our faith in how God works.
9. Job’s friends showed contempt. They struggled with his suffering - loss of all but wife, his sores, his misery. They cared for him. They spent 7 days with him in silence listening to him groan.