Learn from Job to Worship God in Your Suffering (Part 1)

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Now how does Job do in the test? Well, Job 1:20-22 records Job and God's victory:

20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground... 

That is the common middle-eastern way of grieving.

My first trip to Uganda in 1991, I stayed at Namirembe guest house.  By 4 o'clock in the morning, I heard a shriek like I have never heard in my life.  I was 46 years old at that time.  I wasn't a young man, I had lived a while. And I got up the next day and said, "What was that?" O, we were right next to the hospital. Someone had died.  And that was mourning and grieving. I tell you it was a body cutting shriek.  I have never heard anything like it. And I said, maybe its like what I read about in the Bible when people grieve.

Well, this is the normal way of grieving.  Job is doing it.  "He tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground...", but now comes the strange thing, the thing that doesn't fit, "... and worshipped".  In the face of death, in the face of destruction, in the face of calamity, he falls down and worships God.

21 And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. (Job 1:21-22)

And so, here is Job by God's grace winning the victory. Blessed, be the name of the Lord.  Worthy, be the name of the Lord. Treasured, be the name of the Lord. Prized, be the name of the Lord. Valuable, honoured, hallowed, be the name of the Lord.

And so Satan was wrong, wasn't he?  Satan said, "Touch his possessions, he will stop worshipping!" Job didn't stop worshipping. "Touch his possessions, he will curse you!"  There is no curse on Job's lips. There is blessing, there is worship, there is honor.

The superior worth of God in Job's heart became evident to everyone.  The power of God's grace was revealed to everyone.  Can you imagine how this spread the fame of God?  Here is this man Job under unbelievable suffering: still prizing, still treasuring, still loving, still honouring, still worshipping God.  That is incomprehensible, isn't it? 

God must be so great, he must be superior in worth to any earthly possessions, superior to any earthly wealth, superior to any earthly pleasure, superior even to Job's family.  God must be a great God, able to preserve Job's heart and love in submission even in great astonishing suffering.  Satan was wrong.  He didn't get it.  His prediction was quite wrong.

One writer says it this way, "Job's link with the Lord was not broken. Nor had he lost his love for the Lord.  He bowed down before the Lord in reverand adoration confessing, "I have no right to anything in this world, I brought nothing with me into the world, one day I will return to the dust empty-handed, but that's not a reason to accuse the Lord of wrong.  For the Lord entrusted all these possessions to me without my having any right to them. I was never their rightful owner, and even if now he takes them all away from me, I will still praise him. For I love him for his own sake".  

Job's love for God had worn a great victory. He clearly loved God for his own sake and not fo what God had entrusted to him. In the face of Satan's attack, the honor of the Lord had worn out.

Now how did Job ever win this victory?  There is only one explanation. The Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ gave Job the victory. The power of the grace of God in Christ put the Love for God in Job's heart.   This love that Job had for God was only possible through the mediator who suffered more than Job.  Who was forsaken by God and all others as Job wasn't. You see, there is a contrast here, Jesus was forsaken but Job wasn't forsaken.

There is only one man in history who has fully and perfectly loved God for his own sake and never betrayed that love for his Father even when his Father forsook him on the cross; and that man, the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, gave his Spirit to Job and enabled Job to worship in the midst of this storm.

So let me finish now with two truth from this first chapter of Job for sustaining you in your suffering.  Two truths that you have got to know and understand from this first chapter of the book of Job.

Number (1) is that Satan's goal is to destroy your delight and joy in God.  And in order to destroy your joy and your delight in God, Satan tries to defame God.  "God is not great enough and worthy enough for you to worship for his own sake", Satan says. "He is not a great enough treasure.  God's grace is not great enough to create people who worship him no matter what.  Your God is not worthy. Why would you delight and find your joy in him?  Andi in order to try to destroy your joy and your delight by defaming God, Satan uses two tools: the tool of pain and the tool of pleasure. So he uses these two tools not only to defame God but also to destroy your delight and joy in God at the same time.  The two tools work to accomplish both of these goals.

With pain, his goal is to get you to distrust God. "You can't trust God's love and power.  Look at your pain. if God loved you, He wouldn't let you be experiencing that pain. He is not powerful enough to prevent that pain from coming to you.  How can you delight and find joy in that God? He is not worthy.

And you think that is all that Satan has in his arsenal, O no, that's not all! There is also the weapon of pleasure.  And in pleasure, Satan wants and tries to make you feel that God is unnecessary, superfluous and an unneeded extra.  You are so busy delighting in your possessions, in your wealth, in your health, in your prosperity and you have no time to delight in God. In fact, you don't need God.  You have plenty of joy without God.  And of course, this is the weapon that Satan uses particularly in a culture or a society that has a very high standard of living.

Your African culture in general and East Africa, in particular, is coming from lower standards of living and you know this is now the new weapon that Satan has in his arsenal because as the standard of living goes up, "Aaaah, I don't need you staying with these people, I can use pleasure.  And then you get so preoccupied with the things of this world, the things you get, these gadgets and these possessions and these houses and the cars and the wealth and everything, Aaaah, I will get you in delighting in so much and now you don't have time for God.

Satan had tried weapon number one: pleasure,  on Job.  And in spite of Job's family, his wealth, his possessions, he could not get Job to turn away from God and to delight in earthly pleasures and treasures.  Satan failed with the weapon of pleasure with Job.  He couldn't get Job away from worshipping God.  And so he said okay, let us try weapon number two. That will get him!

And so Satan said, "I can destroy Job's God-centered joy, by pain.  I will get Job to distrust God's goodness and power by inflicting pain.  And you see, this is what Satan is after with you,  isn't it? He is after destroying your delight and joy in God, and he can use the weapon of pleasure, he can use the weapon of pain.  

God's goal is different from Satan's goal. His goal is to advertise to the whole universe the one thing that is absolutely true: the infinite worth of God himself. He does this by purchasing out of sinful humanity a people for himself and saving them so that they love him and prize him and cherish him and treasure him and value him above all earthly treasures and above all earthly pleasures.  And so God's goal in the suffering you experience is two-fold: to exalt his name, and to refine and purify and strengthen your faith so that you may treasure God alone.  Increase your joy and your happiness in God himself.  

So here is the essence of purified faith like Job's:  "Lord, my delight is in you. I will not trade you for anything that this world can offer.  My joy in you cannot be altered by either pain or pleasure"  That is in essence what Job is saying.  "The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord".

John Piper says it this way, and we will close with this: "If your joy in God is indestructible in tribulation, then the worth and glory of God shines in the diamond of your faith."  And what's the result when there are diamonds shining in this world because of God's grace?  The result is that God gets the glory.  And you find true joy and true happiness.

Let us pray.

Father, we thank you for this powerful book that tells us things that we can never figure out on our own.  If you didn't reveal to us that there is a great holy of holies in heaven where you gather with your messengers, your rulers, we would never understand what is going on in this world.  But we thank you for this glimpse of your glory and this glimpse of your great courtroom.  And we pray that we will bow in humility to you.  Father I pray for your people,  many of them are going through suffering and are thinking of the suffering they are experiencing or the suffering that their families are experiencing or the suffering that their friends have experienced.  And their hearts can often become grieved in anguish and even in anger over what has happened.  Father, I pray that these series on Job would work in them to worship God, to worship you, to trust you, to treasure you, to prize you no matter what.  And we pray this all in the great name of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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