Saturday, January 26, 2008


This study opened with an Erma Bombeck quote. A version of the story can be found here: - 21k -

Let us just rest quietly in the presence of the Lord & prepare our hearts & minds that we might truely focus on the Lord our God.


Reading Job 38:4 ~ 83

It is of that tear I wish to speak.

My face is red with weeping & on my eyelids is deep darkness.

The night is long & I am full of tossing till the dawn.

I am allotted months of emptiness and nights of misery are apportioned to me.

Let the day perish wherein I was born.

My heart faints within me.

My soul is poured out within me!

The night wracks my bones and the pain that gnaws at me takes no rest.

When we are deep in the dark night of the soul, in anguish & grieving so deeply we feel as if our flesh is being rendered, as women we tend to let our emotions rip. It hurts is our natural response. We want to be made better. We want the hurt to go away.

Now I grant you a study on the book of Job is an odd choice for Mother’s Day but it is not only what the Lord has laid on my heart to share but so many of us are walking the deep valleys at the moment. Our hearts ache. Some days it is hard to get out of bed let alone function like a normal rational human being. When we come to Job we see our pain articulated & we find answers. That is one reason. The second is a little odd but we aren’t so far from Easter & one of the many stories of Easter is the story of women, of Mary the mother of Jesus of whom it was said, ‘a sword shall piece your heart.,’ of the women grieving at the tomb. We are an emotional lot & because we care deeply for those we love we rarely find grief an easy burden to bear. Job helps us understand how to carry the burden of grief.

In studying Job the mind is instructed, the heart is encouraged & the will is made strong. It is immensely valuable to us. Job shows suffering as it really is. It honestly records a sufferer’s doubts & fears, pain & anger. It removes common ideas about suffering & it suggests the right attitude with which we should face our suffering.

Suffering is the common lot of all mankind. Sooner or later we all face grief & pain. Saying we don’t deserve to suffer only brings despair. Facing it & accepting it when it is incomprehensible can strengthen our faith if we allow it too. Doing it is never easy but that is where Job can help us.

Now before we start I just want to set the background a little for you. Job was possibly the first book of the bible to be written, some time between 600 & 400 BC. Suffering was that important & it has been around since Eve started chatting with snakes in the garden. The name Job may mean enemy or the Penitent. Job was a contemporary of Abraham & was thus a real man. He is mentioned by Ezekiel (14:14.20) as one of the 3 great men of the Old Testament along with Noah & Daniel but he was not an Israelite. He did not live in the Promised Land. He lived in a land of which we know very little referred to here as Uz, possibly a city of Ancient Edom on the SE part of the Dead Sea. Job was possibly written by Moses as were the first 5 books of the Old Testament & Job begins the poetical books of the bible ; it is rightly admired as one of the greatest poems ever written.

A brief out line shows a prologue where we are given an insight into the courts of heaven & information that Job does not have. Then Job suffers a series of calamities which leave him in an agony of grief. His ‘Job’s comforters’ each argue with Job three times producing a series of 9 arguments in total, as Job pleads with his friends to understand because God won’t listen to him. There is a 4th , younger debater who tries to summarise things up making Job feel mocked. Chapters 38 ~ 41 are the climax. Here God speaks. The epilogue sees Job restored, a much wiser man than he was before his troubles.

Now the first point about suffering that is made in Job is that we usually don’t have all the facts. Job is completely unaware that God & Satan have this little bet going. All he can see is that his once perfect life has been destroyed & amidst the ruins he has been left nothing. He is clinging on to God by his fingernails.

Friends, this is exactly the position we find ourselves in when we stop warming the pews & actively engage in the spiritual battle we have been enlisted to fight in. We will often find we are in a direct attack by Satan. Too often we forget we’re in the middle of a war & drift along cosily until something tips us out of our comfort zone. How we respond is of utmost importance. We will discuss why a bit later on. The bad news is we are not here to have a good time, an easy life, no troubles or worries. We are here to fight a battle against darkness & bring glory to our Lord & Saviour.

The second point that evolves through the course of this book is the nature of sin. Job reveals the heart of sin in every man, not just the expressed sin of rape, murder, theft etc but the attitudinal sins that lead to expressed sin. As we study this book we begin to notice how

much Job glories in his position as ‘the blessed of God.’ What is revealed when the blessings are stripped away is not very pretty.

Thirdly Job teaches us about the nature of faith. Faith is not just about obeying God & doing what is right when it is in our best interests to do so. That is weak faith & it is Satan’s accusation against Job. We learn from Job that great faith, the kind that draws the attention of the world, is revealed when we serve God when it is difficult to do so, when serving Him is the hardest thing we are asked to do.

Job, like every single one of us, does not have the resources within himself to handle life & its problems. When the book opens Job is highly respected, honoured, sincere, moral, devoted, selfless & godly. What do we find when he can no longer walk into his community with honour & dignity? A querulous, angry old man who is upset with God & revealed as loving prestige & status. In his heart of hearts Job was serving God for his share of God’s glory. When this is taken from him he is left with his puny, whining pussey little self.

Now I ask you to bear with me & listen carefully as we come to the heart of this great & glorious book that has rightly been called the book that addresses the problem of suffering. I am not going to address the problem of suffering when justice is meted on wrongdoers. Nor do I wish to discuss in any depth the problem of unmerited suffering. Why? Because that’s not the point. It never was. The point of suffering in Job is that it forces our attention back on God. That is the first thing. The second thing is that there is glory in suffering & these are predominantly the types of suffering that are revealed in Job.

Oh~oh, Jeannie’s finally lost it you may be thinking. How can there be glory in suffering? And here is where it is important we approach suffering with the right attitude. Because when we bear our suffering with a right heart attitude our suffering reveals that Satan is a liar & a cheat. You see Satan is out to make us distrust God, the goodness of God, the promises of God & see ourselves as unfairly treated. This is Job’s temptation. Why me? I’ve been a good boy. I deserve to be blessed. None of us are good except God. God deserves to be served just because He is who He is & worthy of all praise & honour. That is why Job suffered. It is why Jesus suffered. It is why we are asked to suffer. It is the means by which evil is answered & God vindicated. Unmerited suffering can be a ‘high & holy privilege’ as Stedman calls it. Why? Because we then share in the sufferings of Christ. Philipians 1:29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. When suffering comes, as it does, we can demonstrate that God’s strength, love & grace continue unabated despite all outward circumstances. With his dying breath Jesus demonstrated that belief, commending his soul into his father’s hands despite the mockery that had been his share on the cross for still trusting in God. Here too as we think on the cross & the resurrection we are reminded of Thessolonians 4:13, that we are not to grieve as those who have no hope. Our hope should be in Christ our Saviour & our trust in the God who made heaven & earth. Remember, Satan’s attack on Job was limited so we must keep
before us the greatness & glory of God. Satan is limited according to what God knows we can bear.

Here too in Job we find one of the greatest & most glorious passages in all of scripture. It is great & glorious because it reveals something of the glory of God & something of His nature as well. Here’s poor old Job sitting in the dust not getting much comfort anywhere & scraping away at his boils with a shard of pottery, having a good old whinge about how God won’t even give him an explanation as to what’s going on. I can sympathise. I like explanations too. And God deigns to answer Job. ‘Ok’, He says, ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the world?’ We read a large chunk of this section earlier but I would like us to pause here for a little & meditate briefly on just what this passage is implying, & implying for our day & age too. Consider the implications of some of the issues God raises with Job. Did you know that scientists still don’t know how light is produced? What makes it up, yes, but not how.V16 Even now we know almost nothing about the deepest depths of the ocean. We know that water is made of 2 invisible gases that liquefy into water when they combine but no~one knows why that is so. When water freezes it expands, the only substance on the world that does this. Everything else contracts but that simple inconsistency makes life on earth possible. V6. How did God hang the Earth upon nothing? Well you say, gravity keeps it all there. So it does…but do you know what gravity is? Scientists don’t. They can describe how it acts but not what it is. These are deep & profound issues. Put in the simplest terms we have no idea of the depth & breadth of the knowledge of God. We need to remind ourselves daily of just who God is. It has a way of putting our puny selves in perspective. I like the way Deuteronomy 29:29 puts it: The secret things belong to the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us & to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. Some things are for God alone to know. All our demanding curiosity has no part in the secret things of God. I think some aspects of suffering fall into this category. Only God knows & He has chosen not to share his why with us.

A biologist studying the DNA of field mice & peat bog was obviously struck by something mysterious in the nature of his research. For those who like their sources quoted I apologise as I’ve retained the oddity of this quote, not the source. He decided to put the DNA to music. The result apparently sounded something like Chopin or Bach. What struck me was not that someone would be mad enough to do something like that but that even our DNA has been programmed to sing & glorify God.. It speaks of an enormous love for His creation. It speaks of something incomprehensible. Much as I should like too I have as much chance of comprehending that as I have of grasping quantum physics. And that really is the point, isn’t it? All around us we can see the results of That is a very wonderful thing God’s glory & majesty & nearly all of it is beyond our minds to grasp. But, and it is a very wonderful thing, we have been given God’s promises. Those have been revealed to us & when we are faced with troubles & grief those are promises we can cling to. We have tasted of God & know that He is good. In our suffering that is our witness to a world that does not know the goodness

of God. It is our testimony that. no matter what we can say with Job, ‘ Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him.’ Amen

Now Lord let thy servants depart in peace according to thy word; for their eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the gentiles and for glory to thy people Israel.


MamaOlive said...

You humble me.

Ganeida said...

Pardon? No comprehendo.

MamaOlive said...

Sorry, I couldn't quite put into words.
That bit about suffering for the glory of God. That it is in our suffering that we prove satan a liar and God to be true. It just makes me feel rather small and shows me where I ought to be (looking to God rather than myself).
May He never tire of teaching me, for I am slow to learn.

Ganeida said...

Thank you for clarifying. Stedman (I think, I can't seem to find my link )pointed me in that direction. He had a great series on Job & I was very grateful for his insights. Research is a wonderful thing:).

I'm not sure I have any more of these on hand. People have been known to walk out of church with my notes & I don't always keep a copy but I will check & post future ones. It's nice they can be doubly useful.