Well as most of you know, as a pastor we get requests for prayers. I get e-mails. I get messages via Facebook, and I get letters. And one of the most frequently asked prayers these days are for jobs. People are saying ‘Sheila, pray that I’ll get a job.’ This is the letter I received this past week:
Dear Sheila: My first job was working in an orange juice factory but I got canned. I couldn’t concentrate. Then I worked in the woods as a lumberjack but I just couldn’t hack it so they gave me the axe. After that I tried to be a tailor but I just wasn’t suited for it. Maybe because it was just a sew, sew job.
My last job was working at Starbuck’s but I had to quit because it was always the same old grind. So Sheila, can you pray that God will help me find the perfect job? Signed searching.
Obviously that was not a real letter, but you know what? Don’t we all want to have the perfect job? Don’t we all want to have today just any job? Don’t we want to have a job that will have meaning that will have purpose that we look forward to going to come Monday morning?
Well today the lack of jobs and boy do you follow the unemployment rate like I do? They are saying the economy now and most of our trials are about the jobs, making sure there are enough jobs. And I’ll bet you if you were looking at my message title today, you thought my message title was this: “Job Search: Where is God when the World Falls Apart?” But you know what job search is one part of the problem. We have so many trials we’re facing today. It’s not just lack of jobs, but its also ruptured relationships. Those are the other letters and e-mails I get. Pray for me, I’ve heard it from mothers. Pray for me, I have a daughter who hasn’t spoken to me in 15 years. Others, dire diagnosis. Got a Facebook message from a young man. He was sitting in a doctor’s office in the UK, of all places, and he said “Sheila, I’m reading your father’s book, ‘Turning Your Hurts into Halos.’ I’m waiting to get the news whether my wife has this very aggressive form of breast cancer or not. But your father’s book is keeping me sane. Will you please let him know?’” And he said “we’ve had so many trials, so many trials but this one I’m really, really worried about.” And I sent him a note, I sent him a prayer and I heard back from him and yes, the diagnosis was not what he hoped it would be, not what we prayed, but he still is looking to God. And this man has so many trials but he still continues to say I want to turn my hurts into halos with God’s help.
Some of you are looking and saying will I be homeless? Where am I going to find and I’m running out of money to pay my mortgage payment. I’m running out of money to pay my rent. I don’t have the money to pay the insurance on my automobile and that’s where I sleep these nights. I talk with many of you and I pray with many of you and that is the scenario in which many of us find ourselves in these days. And what comes with that. I feel burdened today to talk to you about the shame, whether we say it or not, whether we share it with anybody or not, but the shame we feel because an embarrassment. We aren’t as successful as we thought we would be. And our self-esteem and what we think of ourselves and what other people think of us because we used to be successful and now we’re not. We used to be able to put a roof over our heads and now we’re not. We used to have a loving relationship with a family member and now we don’t. And what’s gone wrong? Why isn’t it getting any better? It must be something that I’ve done wrong, it must be something that our politicians have done wrong, it must be something that we as a society have done wrong and God is punishing us. Have you ever thought that? Has anybody ever said to you ‘well maybe if you did things a little differently.’ ‘Maybe if you repented.’ ‘Maybe if you went back and apologized and got down on your knees and you said Lord, I’m sorry. Maybe then things would get better.’ Have you heard that from anybody?
Well my message title really is not Job Search: Where is God When the World Falls Apart? My message title is Job Search: Where is God When the World Falls Apart. Because you see Job teaches us so many lessons about what God wants us to know when our world falls apart. And Job did the searching for us. And the answers are found in the book of Job, and especially when you add Romans and put that side by side. Where is God when the world falls apart? Where is He? And is He doing this to punish me? Is this because of something that I’ve done wrong, something I’ve neglected to do? Maybe if I had a better financial plan, maybe if I’d managed my money better, maybe if I had put more in savings, maybe if I put the savings somewhere else. Maybe if I’d spent more time, all those what if’s I could have done it differently if I’d done this differently, if I’d done that differently, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Well let’s look at Job. Let’s look at Job today because in Job, Job was a righteous man. Job 1 says the Lord looked over the entire world to find His best guy, His most righteous, His most faithful. And who did He find? Job. And He says to Satan and the word Satan means accuser, but the Lord says to Satan have you seen My servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He’s a good man. He fears God and will have nothing to do with evil. Now Job was sitting on top of the world. He had all of these servants, he had many livestock, he was very honored. He had a great reputation amongst his people. And he had wealth. He had everything a man could want.
And so Satan replies to the Lord and he says well why shouldn’t he be faithful to You, God, I mean look how well You’ve paid him. Take away his wealth, take away his family and see how he curses You to Your face. And the Lord said he had great faith in His Job. He had great faith in him and He said go ahead. Go ahead. I give you permission. I will remove My hedge of protection and I will give you permission to test My son Job because I believe in him.
And so Satan does. God had one condition. You cannot touch his life. You must spare him his life. And so Job loses everything. First the livestock, then the servants, and then his children. They’re all killed. He loses everything. And if that’s not bad enough, then he has boils all over his body. And Job mourns, oh he mourns. It says he covered himself, he sat in the ashes which was a way of saying I repent Lord and I mourn and I’m just ashes.
But I love these chapters because it’s so powerful to see the depth of Job’s pain. He says oh its better that I should die. Come and take me Lord. Why was I born? In fact, somebody go to the calendar and cross off my birthday. Whoa is me that I was ever born. I am in so much pain. I am in so much pain. The will to die was stronger than the will to live, as dad would say. Job was so depressed. Have any of you felt like that? Have any of you woken up and said I wish I’d never been born? Or prayed for death because the pain is so deep, the depression, the shame.
And as Job is sitting there in agony he never curses his Lord. Even his wife came to him and she said Job, why are you still praising your God? Why are you still faithful to Him? Look what He’s done to you. And you know what he said to his wife? He said get away from me, you heathen woman. He said no I will not turn my face to God because, he says to her, when I was born, I was born with nothing. I was born naked, he says and when I die, I will die with nothing. He said the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. That’s what Job’s response was to his wife.
But he sits there in pain and in agony and he continues to go on for chapter after chapter about how depressed he is and how he would rather die than live and he curses the day he was born. And finally after about seven days of that, his friends come to him and they sit around him and they say well Job, the reason, there must be something you did wrong because that’s how God is, don’t you know? Doesn’t God care for those who are good? If you’re good, you get good things. And if you get bad things, you must be bad or have done something bad so get on your knees and repent Job and God will restore everything to you.
Job listens to those friends, one after another after another, similar advice. Go to God and confess your sins, says the last one. Do not despise God’s correction because God will restore your losses if you do that. Job says what did I do wrong? What did I do wrong? Why should I? What have I done to deserve all of this? What have I done?
We have here on our campus a statue of Job and I would encourage you to go and see it today after the service. It has four verses engraved on the base because these are Job’s four responses. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Another of his replies was I know that my redeemer lives. Another one: though He slay me, I will trust Him. And the last, when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. That was Job’s response. Did Job have pain? Yes. But Job never turned his back on God. And then, God speaks. God comes into the picture and He says to these well meaning friends, no, no, no, no, no, you guys have got it all wrong. Job has these trials not because he’s done anything wrong, he has these trials so that My glory will be revealed.
And in Job 38, write that down, Job 38, if you ever want to know the majesty, the depth and the power of God Almighty, it is described most vividly in Job 38. The Lord spoke to Job out of the storm and He said who is this that obscures My plans with words without knowledge. Prepare to defend yourself. I will question you and you will answer Me. Where were you when I, the God Almighty, laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know. Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what words footing set or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy. Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb? It continues to go, and it’s just absolutely one of the most beautiful, beautiful descriptions of God’s power.
You see, humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but its thinking more of God. Where was God? He was there all the time. This great big powerful God. When you’re going through your trials that seem to have no end, where is God? He is there with you. He has not abandoned you. And are you going through these trials because you deserve them? Absolutely not. God does not punish us. Do we make mistakes? Absolutely yes. But Jesus came. We have a redeemer. He loves us. He saves us.
But there are times when God allows us to go through trials so His glory will be revealed, just like in Job because Job stayed faithful, He’d stayed faithful and God was so honored by Job. And you and I, we can do that.
There is a man who has honored his God, who has stood up for Him throughout the whole world and he had honor in his younger days, and he had respect and he had success beyond measure. My father every time he drives off of this property, he asks my mom to drive past the Job statue. And he says to her, “Arvella, though he slay me, I will still trust in Him.” And I just want to say that our trials are there so God’s glory will be revealed and dad has honored his heavenly father.
People, Satan is the great accuser and he will try to tell you even through well meaning friends, that you deserve the trials that you’re in today and that is a lie. That is a lie. The truth is that Job’s job and Bob’s job, is one in the same. And it’s the same for you and me. It’s to praise God. It’s to praise God no matter what.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You that we have a Redeemer and thank You that You came to show us how big and powerful and loving our God is. Thank You for believing in us, thank You that when You looked over the world You saw a faithful man Job, when You looked over the world You saw a faithful man, Robert, and oh Lord, thank You that they have modeled for us a faith that we can learn from. It is in Your name we pray, amen.