Summary: It takes faith to keep trying... to keep believing God is active in yourlife.
20061015 19th Sunday after Pentecost B
Title: Going Through a Long, Dark Tunnel
Text: Job 23:1-10
Thesis: It takes faith to keep trying… to keep believing God is active in our lives.
Tunnels… The Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel is located on the Continental Divide, about sixty miles west of here. It is the highest vehicular tunnel in the world. It is a twin bore tunnel. The north tunnel was completed in 1973 and the second bore was completed in 1979. The bores are about 1.7 miles in length. The tunnels are much larger than they appear. They are each 48 feet high and 40 feet wide. The electric bill for lighting the two bores is approximately $70,000 per month. They are not straight and you cannot see through them… you would think there is no light at the end of the tunnel if you did not know otherwise.
When people go through a difficult time in their lives, one of the common metaphors used to describe how they feel is that of a long, dark tunnel. They often say, “There does not seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.”
Transition: It is always something of a shock when we find ourselves in a long, dark tunnel.
I. It may come as a shock but, the ”good life” is not guaranteed.
Illustration: Shortly after we moved here Bonnie and I were visiting Rocky Mountain National Park where we saw the alluvial fan left after the dam on Lawn Lake burst releasing 220 million gallons of water down the Roaring River canyon on July 15 1982. The people of Estes Park went to bed the night before, totally oblivious to the existence of the lake, much less the likelihood of it rushing down upon their community at 5:30 a.m. the next morning.
How many of us have gone to bed at night, slept like babies and woke up the next morning to discover that everything had changed? How many of us have felt the good life slip through out fingers?
• The pathology report came back and it wasn’t good.
• The job you thought was secure was eliminated or you were replaced by younger and less expensive cannon fodder.
• The spouse who promised to cherish you “till death” done departed.
• The son or daughter who never gave you a moments trouble calls you from the police station.
• The scenarios are endless…
Job was a good guy. The bible describes him as blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.
So, when God expresses his pleasure and pride in Job to Satan, Satan, who is also known as ‘the Accuser,” suggests that Job has good reason to be a devoted God-fearer… after all his life is just about as good as life can get.
A little placard I saw hanging in a window at Estes Park that read, “If you are lucky enough to be is Estes Park, you are lucky enough.” It would seem, that if you were fortunate enough to be Job, you were fortunate enough.
Satan essentially says, “Job is no fool. He is not about to bite the hand that feeds him!”
So it was that God defended Job’s integrity and the genuineness of his faith, by allowing Satan to test him up to the point of taking his life. Subsequently, Job suffered devastating loss after devastating loss until everything was gone. He lost all of his possessions, his children and his health. We know the end of the story… we know that in the end Job is vindicated and his life is restored, but our story today emerges from the middle… between the losses and the restoration.
Transition: The story begins with Job’s losses
Slide 4 (A. and then peel up B. at the transition)
A. Job’s losses
In one day, calamity upon calamity…
• A servant arrived and told Job that his oxen and donkeys were rustled by the Sabeans, who took all the animals and killed all the servants…
• While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived announcing that lightning had struck and killed all of his sheep and shepherds\..
• While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived and said the Chaldeans stole your camels and killed your servants…
• While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived and announced that, his ten sons and daughters were having dinner at the oldest brother’s house when it was struck by a tornado, which collapsed the house and killed all of his children.
Those familiar with the story know, Job’s initial response was to humbly accept the sovereign will of God. In his grief, he shaved his head, fell to the ground before God and said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The Lord gave me everything and the Lord has taken everything. Praise the name of the Lord!” Job 1:21