Summary: This is the final message in a series of sermons on Job entitled, "When Life Takes a Turn for the Worse."
Text: Job 38:1 - 42:6
For the past six weeks we’ve been looking at the book of Job, which records the suffering and struggles of a good man whose life took a turn for the worse. This book has helped us answer some tough questions, such as:
"Are good people exempt from suffering?"
"What is God doing when my life takes a turn for the worse?"
" What is the Devil up to when life takes a turn for the worse?"
"What should I do when . . . .?"
" Is God punishing me . . .?"
These are all good questions. They’re questions we tend to ask during the trials and troubles of life.
But there’s one question we haven’t answered - and it’s the most important question we can ask when it comes to suffering. I submit to you that the most important question IS NOT, "Why has my life taken a turn for the worse?" I submit that the most important question IS, "Does God still deserve my trust when life takes a turn for the worse?" You see, knowing why is not as important as you might think.
For instance, Imagine that you are out walking and get hit by a bus. You’re lying on the ground and I run to your side and say, "Let me give you an explanation of your suffering. The bus had driven over your femur, breaking it in two places. The displaced bone is pressing against your femoral nerve, which is sending neural messages through your lumbar plexus, up your spine and into pain receptors in your brain, giving you the experience of excruciating agony." Does that help? Of course not!
But suppose I run to your side and say, "I can’t give you an explanation of your suffering, but I do have a solution. I have an injection of morphine which will take care of your pain . I can then splint your leg and take you to the hospital to get it fixed.
Which of these would your prefer? Wouldn’t you much rather have the solution than the explanation?
Now, think about Job and the book which bears his name . . .
I. In chapters 1 and 2 His World Is SHATTERED.
Remember? He lost his wealth, children, health, and marriage - one right after the other.
II. Then, in chapters 3-37, His Faith Is SHAKEN.
Remember? He had three friends, Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad, who came to visit. They wept with Job and sat with him for seven days (2:11-13). But when Job began to complain, they pounced on him like a lion pounces on it’s prey. They insisted that Job had done something wrong and God was punishing him because of it.
That of course wasn’t true. The fact of the matter is, God was testing him in order to show Satan that his devotion was sincere. But Job didn’t know that and neither did his three friends. And so, for 28 chapters, chapters 3 to 31, they debated back and forth. On one hand, the three friends argued that Job was being punished because he had done something wrong. And on the other hand, Job argued that he was innocent and that God was being unfair.
Read Job’s speeches in chapters 3-31, you’ll sense a note of bitterness and self righteousness. He didn’t come to the point where he cursed God, but he did come to the point where he accused God of being unfair and uncaring. In fact, he even argued that he could vindicate himself if God would hear his case (Job 10:1-3, 13:20-22, 19:5-7).
This brings us to chapter 32, which introduces a fourth friend: a young man named Elihu. He was the youngest of the bunch, yet he hit the nail right on the target. He rebuked the three friends for their judgmental attitude toward Job, and he rebuked Job for his bitter attitude toward God. He pointed out, as we pointed out last week, that God disciplines His children when they stray but He also tests them when they are faithful.
His speech is recorded in chapters 32-37, and as he closes a speech a thunderstorm approaches. He points to the storm as an illustration of God’s greatness and majesty (read 37:14-17). This brings us to the final section of the book.
III. In chapters 38-42, His Faith is STRENGTHENED.
(Read 38:1-3) The storm hits and God speaks to Job out of the storm. Job gets his wish and is allowed a hearing before the Almighty.
This is the climax of the story. Only it doesn’t turn out like you’d expect. You’d expect God to explain to Job why he was suffering. You’d expect God to come out and say, "Look Job, this was a test to prove the sincerity of your devotion to me"; or, "Job, this was a test designed to exercise and strengthen your faith", or, "Job, I allowed this so you can see where you are in your spiritual journey." But no. God didn’t do that.