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The Story of Job - His Suffering

Sermon Series:

The Story of Job

Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Job 2:1-10


Today is the day that the Lord has made. So let us rejoice and be glad in it. And everyone said, Amen. And Amen. I hope you can say that in your days of suffering. And as I said, this is a weighty and weighty topic. And so before we feel the weight of this, I thought maybe we start on a lighter note with just, some fun facts as we get going with this heavy topic of Job. So I'm gonna give you some fun facts here this morning, and because we're reading a book of the Bible, let's stick with the theme of books. So here are some fun facts, and if these ever come in handy to you one day when you're on Jeopardy, take a guess, what was the first book written on a typewriter? Any guesses?

Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Interesting. Now this one is going to expose who the weird people are and they don't care that people know that they're weird, but is there anyone here, and it goes to the other venues too, you love the smell of old books. Yep, see, there are always a few. Do you know there's actually a word for that? I don't know if I'm saying it right, but bibliomania? I think that's how you say it. So right now, the top three most-read books in the world. The Bible, no surprise there. The second one is probably one that actually on this side of the pond we're not super familiar with, but worldwide it's one of the most read books. It's the quotations from the chairman Mao Zedong. And then third, I guess is more of a series than a book. Anyone want to take a guess? Harry Potter. I heard that.

Alright, last one. The last fun fact is the cue segue. Did you know that the Book of Job is one of the oldest books of the Bible? And it is quite possibly the first one that was actually written down. This is interesting because of the subject matter, right? Because it's such a weighty topic dealing with suffering and it's caused so many questions and yet it is a book that has clearly stood the test of time. It has affected and challenged and encouraged people across continents, centuries, languages, cultural divides. Job is amazing and it's an amazingly complex book, but it stood the test of time. But I would say, I would say especially for us here who are 21st-century Americans, I would say that we, compared to all people throughout human history, I dare say that we have even harder time with this story than most.

And here's why. Because largely, as a people, we're unaccustomed, we're not accustomed to suffering. Suffering's not a way of life for us. And I'm not diminishing those who have suffered in this world, but I'm saying largely as a people, suffering is not a part of the American ethos. We are people who do not have wants, largely. We're people who have what we need. We've had comfortable lives. We're among the richest people who have ever lived on the face of the planet. And you best believe that affects how we consider and relate to God. That you better believe that informs how we have come to understand how God works. We are a people who think because of our life of seeming pleasure and supply and lack of wants, well, Well, surely, surely then that means that God wouldn't give us anything other than our best life now. And the people who think that are going to have an incredibly hard time, more than most, with a story like Job, because Job is so challenging to that notion.

So let's get there now. Would you please turn in your Bibles to Job chapter 2. We're in the second part of this five-week series, Job Chapter 2. That's on page 529 if you want to use the Bibles we provided. Before we really sink into our text, I want to take a moment and just kind of walk through the first part of chapter 2, just kind of frame, give us a frame of reference.

So as you're turning there, Job chapter 2 verse 1, it says this, it says,

again, again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came among them to present himself to the Lord.

Okay, so to clarify, the sons of God, we talked about this last week, the sons of God are, this is a spiritual setting, these are spiritual beings. We don't know exactly what they are, maybe they are angels, we see the devil come into this presence, the devil is a fallen angel, doesn't specify that, but what we see is this is God's what we've known as the divine counsel not because God's seeking their wisdom but because God has created these spiritual beings to see his will enacted upon creation and reality.

But Satan enters and we see a conversation that reflects what we saw last week with Job chapter 1 verse 2

"and the Lord said to Satan from where have you come from Satan answered the Lord from going to and fro on the earth, and walking up and down it. And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil? He holds fast to his integrity."

Stop right there. So God is saying, pointing back to how Job has survived his first round of loss and suffering. But he's done this by maintaining his faith in God and his integrity as a man. God says he still holds fast to his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason. So again, here we see that God specifies that Job in a sense did not deserve this, which shows us that there is something much larger, much deeper at play here.

Verse four, "then Satan answered the Lord and said, skin for skin, all that a man has, he will give for his life, but stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh and he will curse you to his face."

Okay, stop right there. Do you see what Satan is saying to God? Satan is saying to God, God, you know that the heart of man, the heart of humankind, is ultimately selfish. At the end of the day, all they really care about is themselves. The reason Job passed the first test is that you wouldn't let me attack him. But God, you attack Job? That's when you'll see him curse you. That's when you'll see his faith fail.

"And the Lord said to Satan, behold, he is in your hand. Only spare his life."

So God permits this. But we also see God put limitations on this, which shows us that God is still in control. But unlike last time, we see the devil here go right to work.

Verse 7, "So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he, Job, took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes."

So here we see Job in his lowest moment because the devil always kicks you when you're down. Satan so physically afflicts Job with this skin disease, whatever it is, that it literally feels better to Job to take shards of broken pottery and to scrape his skin. That feels better than the sores. That's how terrible an agony he is in.

Job took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes shows us that Job is grieving because ash represents devastation. And Job is showing us that he literally and symbolically is sitting in the midst of his devastation as he is mourning the loss of everything. And I would probably say particularly, especially his children. But it's these next two verses, verses nine and 10, that I really want to spend time digging into this morning. So again, Job is at his lowest moment. He's in pain. He's lost it all. He's lost his children. He's covered in a skin disease.

And then look what happens. That's where we're going to pick up. So would you hear the word of the Lord? Job chapter two, verses nine and 10.

"Then his wife said to him, Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die. But he said to her, You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? In all of this Job did not sin with his lips."

Amen. This is God's word. Let's pray and we'll continue. Let's pray.

Father God in heaven, above, Lord, we need your guidance of your Holy Spirit as we read from your Word. So we ask, Holy Spirit, that you'd meet with us now in the words that you've inspired. Father, help us to see your truths in this as we grow closer to you and as we grow more into the image of our precious Savior and your son Jesus, in whose name we pray.

And everyone said, amen and amen.

So as we look at this, there's one thing, in particular, I want to make sure that I underscore for us here this morning as we walk through this passage, and it's this. In times of suffering, Job did not rely on a story like his. He relied on his faith. You may not be in a time of suffering, but you may be one day. And I hope you rely on and hold on to this, that Job didn't rely on a story like his. He relied on his faith. Before Job, we don't really see a story like Job. So it wasn't an inspiring story that got Job through his suffering. It was God. It was his faith it revealed so much about the strength of his faith and I think this points out one of the things that's really hard about life in many ways pain teaches us what peace cannot so often pain makes us remember, peace helps us forget.

My father tragically died before I even turned two years old and my 23-year-old mom was left alone with me and my infant sister. I grew up with scars from wounds I don't remember feeling. And so I didn't necessarily grow up with pain, but I did grow up asking painful questions sooner than most. And for those of you who have lost loved ones, especially tragically, we know something. We know that sometimes death teaches us about life in ways that life can't. And when we come to a story like Job, in ways that life can't. And when we come to a story like Job, I think one of the biggest questions we have, and probably the question we have for a story like Job, is why? Why? Why did this happen? Why did God allow this? And do you want to know my answer? My ultimate answer is, I don't know why.

I can tell you my reformed Stoic theological mind, I can give you an answer that in some way a greater good was to come out of this, in some way God was more glorified in this, and I do think that's the answer, but my human mind says I don't know why, I just see what. I see what came from this. I see a truth more fully known, I see a truth more fully revealed. I see a pathway to deal with pain and suffering and loss. But it's through faith in God, I don't know how people in this world endure pain and loss without God.

And you best believe that faith, while it causes, while it provides comforts, it often causes questions. If you're doing faith right, it provides questions and tension and there's mystery that we have to sit with in a sense But it's all through faith in God.

Listen to me not a god who stood by Helpless as Job suffered but a God who permitted this to happen and listen to me.

I'd rather that be the case I'd rather have to deal with the mystery of a God who allowed this to happen than believe in a God who is too weak to stop it.

So as we walk through these two verses, these two very profound verses, I want to pull out a few things for us this morning. And it's how suffering reveals so much.

First thing I think we're going to see is that suffering reveals the difference between integrity versus independence, faithfulness versus foolishness, perspective versus entitlement, and innocence versus excuses. So first thing, suffering, it grows our faith by revealing the difference between integrity and independence. Verse nine, then his wife said to him, do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die. So here we see Job's wife finally makes her appearance and oh, what an appearance it is.

But let us not forget, this woman not only lost her way of life, this woman lost all of her children. This woman lost 10 children. This woman is broken in half. She's empty, she's angry, she's lost her passion for life, she's lost her will to live. I know my wife, I don't know how this woman is even standing right now. And her husband, she sees her husband who's also at his lowest point, but she sees him holding onto his faith and that embitters her. She's hating life right now and she wants Job to hate life too. So do not judge Job's wife because what she says to Job while wicked and from a place of pain, what she says comes from something that's so true. Look what she says, let's study this for a moment. Then his wife said to him, do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.

Okay, now we all know that the story of Job is like an onion and there's many layers here, but so here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna peel back a bunch of layers right now and we're gonna go deep into this story. So stay with me. She says, do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.

So did you notice, did you notice that Job's wife, she rightly connects the strength of Job's character, which is his integrity, with the core of Job's character, which is his faith. She's connecting these two. She knows that Job's identity is his faith. And his faith forms his identity, which is manifested in his integrity the job's wife is saying That for job to reject his integrity. It's the same thing as job rejecting his faith For job to reject his faith is for job to reject his very identity. Those things are intertwined and indistinguishable so church and

Friends who are here, please don't lose me on this one. This is such a critical point to show how different Job is handling this pain and suffering than his wife. And I say most of the people on this planet.

Job knows that to be true to himself, he must first be true to God.

Now, follow me on this for Job's true identity is found in God and this my friends flies in the face of prevailing culture. Our culture's mantra can be summarized like this, to thine own self be true. Our world has taken that to mean in order for you. But what we see in Job is that for him to be true to who he is, he must firstly be true to God. And parents and grandparents, take this home.

Stop telling your kids to be true to God. Because when they are firstly true to God, that's when they find out who they are truly meant to be. An identity apart from God is idolatry.

And that makes us the God, the lowercase g God of our lives, and we are terrible, terrible gods to ourselves and terrible gods to each other. Only in God can we find out who we are truly meant to be. We are His design. And we are more true to ourself when we are firstly true to who God is creating us to be. Job's wife says, do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die. Job's wife is saying to Job, give up on your character, give up on your faith. Because Job's wife knows that for him those things are the same. His faith forms his character, his identity. Job's integrity, hear me in this, Job's integrity comes from his dependence on God, not his independence from God. For Job to be until you find yourself in the Lord. But our world thinks you need to reject God and to reject His plan and to reject His design for you to be free to who you are. And what I'm saying to you is that the opposite is true. That you'll never know who you truly are until you find yourself in the Lord. Job lost it all. He didn't lose himself because his true self was found in God. It's not about who you say you are. It's about who God says you are. Job's wife says, curse God and die.

Verse 10, "but then he said to her, you speak as one of the foolish women would speak,"

which leads to number two,

Suffering reveals the difference between foolishness and faithfulness

So Job is teaching us a very profound truth here. He says, turning your back on God in your suffering is foolish. Notice though, notice though, Job, the righteous man, he doesn't call his wife a fool. He just says what she is saying is foolish. That turning your back on God is foolishness. Why? Because when we turn our back on God, when we turn from God, we turn to that which is less. Less good, less holy, less helpful, less true. Job's wife is acting as a foolish woman.

But remember number one, please don't judge her, but also notice that Job doesn't belittle her or call her a name. He calls her out by saying, what you're saying is foolish, because what Job's wife doing, what Job's wife is doing right now is something that we all need to be aware of, and I'm pretty sure most of you are aware of this modern day proverb. We see this in Job's wife. You know this common phrase, that hurt people hurt people. Have you guys heard that before? Like those who are hurting end up hurting others.

Job's wife is like the archetype of this. She's in pain, she's in anguish, she's hurting, she's lashing out. She wants Job to hurt too. She lost all 10 of her children. So remember, in our times of suffering, we need to act out of faithfulness, not foolishness. Because the heart that is hurt, it first needs to lament, and it needs to heal. Because before it does that, it can be a very dangerous thing, as we see in Job's wife. Suffering also reveals something else about the human heart. And that's the difference between perspective and entitlement. And what we see here, in this next line, is we see a verse that our world is emotionally incapable of comprehending. Job says, shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil? Alright, let's just stop here for a second, because the word evil here, that presents some questions, doesn't it? So, I'll try to do this really, real briefly here. But the ancient Hebrew, what this was written in, it was a very limited language, limited in its range of word, unlike English, the most wordy language of all time, we can nuance what we want to say with particular words. The ancient languages didn't have that breadth of vocabulary. Which is why some of your translations may say adversity or trouble. But because the ESV, the English Standard Version, what we use here at Peace Church, because that's a descendant of the King James Bible, we still translate this word as evil. But let's be clear. Let's be clear here. The Bible is clear that God is not the author of evil. But clearly, God in his sovereignty allows this for a time. But while God allows us, make no mistake, this comes from Satan's hands.

So the notion behind this that I think we need to understand is that we have to, on this side of eternity, understand that we're going to have to take the good with the bad because that's called living in the real world The people who think that they only deserve good all the time are called entitled But Job is not entitled, Job is a man with perspective and his perspective Allows him to endure suffering unlike his wife or anyone else on this planet entitlement or anyone else on this planet.

Entitlement destroys us during suffering, because entitlement doesn't prepare us for hardship, loss, or suffering.

I think maybe a common way to look at this is to say that what Job is showing us right now is the difference between being humble and being prideful. So let's connect this with something that we said earlier. Okay, earlier we said people in our world reject God so they can determine their own identity. Again, I think that's only ever going to produce a shadow of who you are meant to be. But here's what we have done. We have told the last few generations you can be anything you want to be. And we thought we were being kind, we thought we were being uplifted, and we thought we were producing healthy children, but what we were doing was we were feeding them a mantra made of Twinkies. We should not have been saying to thine own self be true. We should have been telling our kids be true to God. But we don't have God in our lives, which means we become the God of our lives, lowercase g, gods. Add to that, we've been raised with an entitlement attitude and what do we have? We have the culture around us. We should have saw this coming. What we have in the world around us is the product of our own teachings. This was the inevitable outcome of this.

And I would say one of the most glaring examples of this would be the transgender movement. The transgender community, in a sense, to no fault of their own, they are demonstrating the unintended consequences of the be whatever you want, find yourself teaching of their upbringing. Add to that an unhealthy dose of massive entitlement and now the world must bend to their will.

The transgender community gets to identify as they want, not as God designed. And if you misgender, dead name, or fall short of anything other than affirming their godless identity, then you are committing the cardinal sin of our age. If you don't let them use the bathroom they want, if you don't let them play the sport they want, if you don't use the pronouns they want, then you are the terrible person.

Why? Because you are threatening their mental health. That makes you the problem. This further just shows that an entitled upbringing does not prepare you for opposition or adversity or suffering or pain. And as we learn from the book of Job, perspective and humility prepare us for suffering, but pride and entitlement destroy us in suffering or opposition or adversity or pain. And so Christians in the house, we cannot make the same mistake. We can't make the same mistake of the previous generations and we can't make the mistake that Job's wife is making. We must have perspective. We must have humility that all we are and all we have is from God. This perspective gives us humility. Humility to face opposition, to face suffering, to face loss. A humility for when we do engage the transgender community that we do this with love and respect and grace, but also truth. Remember Job did not call his wife names, but he still called her out.

We don't call people names, but we do call out godlessness. And Job shows us this fourth important difference. He says at the end of verse 10, he says, in all of this, the scriptures tell us, in all of this, Job did not sin with his lips. What comes out of your mouth is from your heart. The Bible is saying that Job did not sin at all here. Because what we see here is that when faced with suffering, Job did not make excuses to sin. He kept his innocence. And suffering, when you suffer, if you do it in faith, you will not have an excuse to sin. But we'll see our innocence kept.

Because suffering grows our faith by showing us the difference between excuses and innocence.

Job did not sin when he had all of the worldly excuses to reject God. Even in the midst of this he kept his innocence because he did not make excuses So many people in their suffering make an excuse to sin Whether through acting out in revenge or causing more pain So often people in their pain they lash out in their anguish and in their anger and they end up sinning They do what Job's wife Wanted Job to do. They cursed God.

And for the Christian, for the Christian, for the faithful Christian, we can't begin to think about suffering without considering the suffering that Jesus went through. This is why the Christian approaches life and suffering so differently, because we have a Savior who not only suffered, but He suffered for us. Need I remind you that when Jesus was literally being nailed to the cross, He was covered not just in a skin disease, His flesh was torn open because He had just been tortured? His flesh was gaping open as he was being nailed to the cross. It was in this state that Jesus died for us with open bloody wounds covering his body, the hammer coming down on the nails that pounded through his flesh, through his hands and his feet as he hung there on the cross for us in our place through it all Jesus kept his integrity he kept his identity he kept his perspective he kept his humility he kept his faith he kept his innocence even in his greatest moment of suffering and it was in this that Jesus said something and it was the thing that changed my heart in the midst of this is when Jesus cried out to God and he said father forgive them for they do not know what they do. This is why Jesus is better than Job.

This is why we ultimately don't look to Job, we look to Jesus. We don't rely on a story like Job, we rely on the gospel of Jesus. That is the center of our faith. That is the core of our identity. Job suffered, although he was righteous, but Jesus suffered for the unrighteous, for me and for you.

And as we've said before, the best way that you can prepare for pain and suffering in this life is not by being inspired by a story like Job, it's by having faith in Jesus Christ. For it's in our faith, in the risen Jesus, that we can be prepared. Because what the Holy Spirit does is he build in us to be a sanctuary. He builds us as a church to be a sanctuary, and it's a strong tower. It's a tower that can weather the ups and downs of life, the pain and suffering. It's a tower, it's a sanctuary, where we have it because that's who we are in Christ, and we have it when we come together, that we can celebrate the highest of highs, and we can mourn with those who are in the lowest of lows. Why? Because through it all, Jesus is building his church. He's building us to be his church. He's building in us to be a sanctuary to show the world something different, something that shines light in a dark world, something that can weather the storms of suffering and pain and something that can celebrate like none other, because that's who God is making us to be. And so, as I said last week, you may not feel like you need it right now, but in this broken world, you may come to a point of pain and suffering. And so, like Job, don't rely on a story like his, look to your faith, faith in Jesus. Amen. What I want you to do is I want you to bow your heads for a moment. And if you could just not tune out, but just listen to me for a second. The story of Job is not a story you are just supposed to sit there and listen to a preacher preach about. This is a story that you, as a follower of Jesus, you must wrestle with in your own soul. And I want you to do that right now. I want you to consider Job and what he went through, the faith that he had. I want you just to consider and wrestle with this for a moment.

Father, we come before you. Lord, you are strong. Father, you are over all. So, Father, we do, even if it comes with a level of mystery, we'd rather have you, God, who allows this to happen, rather than a God who is helpless when it happens. So, Father, we do look to you in all things. And I pray, Lord, and I thank you, Father, that by Jesus, through the power of the Spirit, through your Word, you are building us. You're building in us a sanctuary, and you're building us to be a sanctuary. I pray, God, pray that the light of this church and every gospel preaching church shines brightly in this world to show the world something different, something better, something that can stand the weather of opposition, the weather of suffering, and something that can celebrate the love that you've given to us in Jesus. So, Father, we do pray that you'd build in us to be a sanctuary. For your glory, we do pray these things in the precious, perfect, and powerful name of Jesus. Jesus. And everyone said, Amen.

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