Summary: Four facts that will help us weather the storms of life.
We all know about Hurricane Katrina. We’ve seen the devastation it caused. Maybe you’ve wondered, “How would I have responded if I had been affected by that storm?” I want to talk tonight about “weathering the storms of life.” How does the Bible say we should react to pain and suffering?
Job is the classic biblical example of someone who faced personal tragedy. His suffering caused him to ask many questions. What are some questions that people ask when tragedy strikes? “Why?” or “Why me?”
FOUR FACTS THAT WILL HELP US WEATHER THE STORMS OF LIFE
1. The storms of life are not beyond God’s control.
In 1:1-3 we are introduced to Job. Here we discover two things about this man: (1) He is a good man. “He feared God and shunned evil” (v. 1). (2) He is a wealthy man.
Verses 6-12 tell us about a meeting between God and Satan. (Yes, Satan is a real person.) We learn here that God gives Satan limited power to cause pain. God says to Satan, “Everything [Job] has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger” (v. 12). Why does Satan want to cause us pain? His goal is to destroy our faith in God. To accomplish this he uses two weapons: pain and pleasure. He uses pain to make us feel that God is powerless or unkind. He uses pleasure to make us feel that God is unnecessary.
Verses 13-19 present a series of very unfortunate events for Job. What happened to everything Job possessed? He lost it all (in one afternoon). Job’s reaction to his loss is quite unusual (read verses 20-22). According to Job, who took away his children and wealth? Job doesn’t say, “Satan has taken away everything I had.” No, he says, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away” (v. 21). In chapter 2 we are told that Satan will also afflict Job with a terrible skin disease, and Job will respond by saying to his wife, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (v. 10). This leads us to a truth that may shock you: Satan’s work is ultimately the work of God.
Job displays two initial reactions to his tragedy: (1) he mourns and (2) he praises God. When tragedy strikes your life, it’s okay to cry. The tears of grief are not signs of unbelief. It’s natural to cry in times of loss, but it’s supernatural to praise God. Job praises God for his past goodness and realizes that He is still in control. So the first fact that will help us weather the storms of life is that the storms of life are not beyond God’s control. God’s sovereignty needs to be coupled with His goodness. (You might ask, “If the storms of life are not beyond God’s control, why doesn’t He stop them from coming?”)
2. The storms of life hit both the good and the bad.
It’s one thing to bear a sudden tragedy. It’s quite another thing to suffer its pain for weeks and months and even years afterward. (Soldiers have been known to get a leg blown off by a land mine and run on the raw stump back to safety, but then cry like a baby at the pain of surgery and healing.) Immediately after Job had lost everything, he was able to say, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (1:21). Then Job’s misery drags on for months. He says in his agony, “Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired man waiting eagerly for his wages, so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me” (7:2-3). Job begins to think that God is against him. Why didn’t God quickly reward Job for his faithful reaction to his loss? Because Job has a lot yet to learn about suffering and about God. And we do too. That’s why we’re not going to skip ahead now to chapter 42 where the happy ending comes.
At the end of chapter 2 we are introduced to three of Job’s “friends.” But they aren’t very good friends. They don’t comfort him; they only make him angrier. (Be careful of what you say to those who are suffering.) One of them, Eliphaz, says, “Consider now: Who being innocent, has ever suffered? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it” (4:7-8). In other words, he says that suffering is the punishment for sin, and prosperity is the reward for goodness. Eliphaz also says, “But if it where I [i.e., “if I were in your situation”], I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (5:8-9). What’s wrong with Eliphaz’s statements? (Eliphaz sounds like today’s “health and wealth” preachers.)