Job’s First Lament: Why Was I Ever Born? (Job Sermon 3)
March 07, 2021 | Andy Davis
Joy in Suffering, Suffering, Trials
Pastor Andy Davis preaches a sermon on Job 3 and talks about the first time Job opens his mouth to lament following the trials he has experienced.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
So, turn in your Bibles to Job, chapter three. Jesus said, as he was preparing his disciples for his own death, "In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world." The apostle Paul said, "Through many tribulations, we must enter the Kingdom of God." Peter wrote, “It is hard for the righteous to be saved.” These are verses that come heavy on us and as we think about it, we realize, especially the older we get in the faith and the more mature, how true they are. It is not easy for us to walk through this cursed world. Even as Christians with the promises of eternal life, it is not easy to be saved. Finally saved. So, in God's goodness, he's called us together today to hear his word. You just heard Job 3, 1 through 15 read and think wow, these are gloomy words, these are difficult words, and they are, but I am relying on the wisdom of God, the Holy Spirit, to put these words in the perfect scripture that has been passed down generation after generation. He wants us to hear these words. He wants us to read them and to understand what Job said as he went through this terrible crushing trial.
I. Job Speaks at Last
We've already begun the prologue of this great book. We looked last week at Job one and two we've learned who Job was. A godly man unlike anyone who lived at that time on earth. He was blameless and upright. A man who feared God and shunned evil. He was a man who was lavishly blessed materially in this world. He had abundant possessions. He had a large happy family. He was a man who understood the deepest truths of a healthy spiritual life. He understood that appearances can be deceiving. That even his children, as they were feasting and having a good time with one another, might somehow be cursing God in their hearts. And so he himself was no whitewashed tomb who looked good on the outside but inside was corrupt.
We've learned even more significantly that almighty God, the ruler of the universe, was very pleased with Job. That he actually boasted about Job. Singled him out among any that lived at that time saying, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is none like him on earth. A man who is blameless and upright," and this commendation from God is infinitely more valuable than anything else Job could possibly have taken delight in, for it is not the one who commends himself or the one whom people commend, but it is the one whom God commends, who is truly righteous. We've been led by the scripture into the heavenly courts, into the heavenly realms. Ordinarily we'd not have access, but through the word of God, that's where God the king reigns and we've also seen the presence of the accuser, of Satan, who says all of Job's piety is based on his prosperity. That God had put a hedge of protection around Job. And he said, “If you take away that hedge and let me get at him, he will curse you to your face.” Said that to God. God permitted Satan to do that. One terrifying day, Job lost every earthly blessing that he had. An avalanche of suffering poured down upon him wave upon wave, culminating in the news of the instant death of all 10 of his children. And if that weren't enough, then Satan came at God and at Job a second time, this time concerning Job's physical health. He claimed that a man would give all of his possessions for his health and that if God struck Job's body, he would curse God to his face. Once again, God permitted Satan to go out and afflict Job, and Satan struck this tragic man with a terrible disease resulting in physical agony from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Beyond this, Job's own wife tempted him openly to despair, effectively speaking Satan's words to her own husband. It's terrible how we can, through certain circumstances, do Satan's work in the lives of others. Satan can take us captive to do his will. We can say things that we shouldn't say; “Are you still holding onto your integrity? Curse God and die.” With her own heart breaking, certainly. Job responded with amazing patience. He worshiped God and he said all the right things. “Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I will depart,” “The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised,” “Shall we accept good from God and not difficulties?” Said all the right things, but trial always goes on longer than we want it to. Keeps on going. Grinds away. For Job, at that point the trial was just beginning.
Job's friends came to comfort him and when they saw him, they could scarcely recognize him; he was so changed. They were stunned into seven days and seven nights of silence, just sitting there with him, lamenting with him wordlessly. Wordlessly. Job just sat there with them. Wordlessly. But the words are about to come aren't they? They're about to flow. They're about to flow like a river, and they start with this chapter, this bitter lament from Job. Job's not a lifeless stone. He's not a brute beast. He has a mind, he has a heart, and these events have shredded him from within. Jesus said, "Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks," and it's time for Job to speak what's in his heart, and so we get Job three.
II. Job Curses the Day of His Birth (Job 3:1-10)
He begins in chapter 3, verse 1 through 10, by cursing the day of his birth. Look at it with me. “After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said: ‘May the day of my birth perish in the night it was said, 'a boy is born.' That day - may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it. May darkness and deep shadow claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm its light. That night - may thick darkness seize it; may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months. May that night be barren; may no shout of joy be heard in it. May those who cursed days curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan. May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn, for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me to hide trouble from my eyes.’” Why did Job do this? Why did he curse the day of his birth? Well, he doesn't want to curse God. To charge God with wrongdoing, but his heart is broken. He's reeling. He's swimming in an ocean of agony, pain, and he must speak. He has to say something to express the inner volcano of pain. The pain within him. He doesn't curse himself and he doesn't curse God, as his wife urged him to do. Instead, he curses the day of his birth. He just wants that day removed from the calendar of the year. Sort of an anti birthday. Birthday celebrations are a way of people saying to a person: “I'm glad you were born. It's a good thing you came into the world. It's a good thing you came into my life.” That's what we do at birthdays. Job wants the opposite message, engraved with an iron stylus on an iron tablet of the years' calendar and the history books: “May it be as though that day never existed, for I am immeasurably sorry that I was ever born and I certainly don't want to celebrate that fact.”
What are the details of the curse? Well he says, "May that day perish like it never existed. May the day turn into darkness. May God turn away from that day, like it seems he's turned away from me. May he refuse to care for that day like has withdrawn his care for me. That day, may it swim in deep darkness." A day happens when the sun rises and the light expands to fill the world and the day becomes the full brightness of noon day. It illuminates a world of sunlight and warmth. That's what a day is. “Now, I am saying, I wish that day had never occurred at all. I wish that blackness would just overwhelm that day, with no sunrise at all. And that celebration that happened when I was born; may it be stricken from the record books of history. There was a shout of joy. A boy is born. A son is born into the world. Maybe a messenger running to my father, bringing him the good news. You have a son. And may we assemble all those that are good at cursing days, all the great cursers of days on the earth. Talented people, to stand as a chorus, all of them, to curse that day with all the powers of their skills as cursers of days. And may the morning stars not sing in anticipation of the dawn. May that dawn actually never come. Let the days stay shrouded in darkness of the night that preceded it, like that day never happened at all. Why? Because I was born into the pathway of life that led to this. That's why. Because of the pain that I'm feeling.”
III. Job Questions Life Itself (Job 3:11-23)
So Job is questioning life itself in verse 11 and following. He says, "Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb? Why were there knees to receive me and breasts that I might be nursed? For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest with kings and counselors of the earth, who built for themselves palaces now in ruins, with rulers who had gold, who filled their houses with silver. Or why was I not hidden in the ground like a stillborn child, like an infant who never saw the light of day? There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest. Captives also enjoy their ease; they no longer hear the slave driver's shout. The small and the great are there; the slave is freed from his master." Verse 20. "Why is light given to those in misery and life given to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?"
So, what's going to follow this initial outbreak of cursing of the day of his birth is a series of questions. One after the other they flow. With that word: why? Again and again, why? They pour from the deepest recesses of Job's agonized mind: “I don't understand, oh Lord, what you're doing. I have some serious questions. There must be a reason why. Why all of this has happened, why did I not perish at birth, why did I not die as I came out of my mother's womb? Why at that moment did I get what I needed to survive? When I was so vulnerable, it would've been just so easy to let me perish at that moment. Why instead were their knees to receive me and a mother to nurse me? What was the point of all that? Of my ever being born, and then from that point on being sustained day by day? If only I had died then, if they had just cast me out at that moment, then I would now be at peace.”
So Job looks at the grave as a place of peace and rest and quiet. Of rest from all of this agony, far better than the melting in the crucible of this cruel fate. He's in a hot fire and he's getting melted and he hates that pain and he just wants darkness and peace: “Now, if I had died then like so many infants do die, in infancy, then I would now be in that place of dark nothingness. I would be in that place of absolute stillness. I would not be feeling anything. I'd be like those kings and the counselors, the great men of old, who lived prosperous and successful lives, but now they lie unmoving and unmoved in a dark grave somewhere. Those successful kings went through the whole process of building up great kingdoms that now lie in ruins, in the ruins of the dust. They learned from experience that everything is vanity and dust in the wind, but if I had died the day I was born I would be with them in the exact same place of darkness and nothingness, and that would've been far better for me. Far better than the journey from that first day that I was born until this moment that brought me here. My mother scooped me up. She hugged me. She wrapped me in a blanket. She nursed me, met all of my needs, did it day after day, but what for? So I could eventually be tormented like this? Now, if I had been a stillborn, like so many babies are, I would've been wrapped up and planted in the earth, and that's what's going to happen to me anyway, so why was I ever born? Now, in the grave where I long to be nothing ever happens; even the wicked cease from turmoil; the successful achieve nothing. In the grave where I long to be, slaves are free at last from the lash of their wicked slave drivers. Everything is still. It's motionless. It's quiet, and especially there's no pain, no world of bad news coming upon me, wave upon wave.” So why are suffering people born at all?
In verses 20 through 23, Job gets down to the business at hand: “Why is light given to those in misery and life given to the bitter of soul? To those who long for death that does not come? Who search for it more than for hidden treasure? Who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” “Why does God knit people together in their mother's womb who just end up living in this level of pain and agony, yearning for the grave? That makes no sense to me,” cries out Job in his agony. “I don't understand it.”
IV. Beginning to Question God (Job 3:23-26)
Now in verses 23 through 26, Job begins to question God. Now, it's going to ramp up over the chapters that follow. Here it's just beginning. “Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” verse 23, “For sighing comes to me instead of food. My groans pour out like water. What I feared has come upon me. What I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Job speaks of a man of sorrow whom God has, he says, hedged in. It's the second time in the book of Job we have the concept of Job inside of a hedge.
The first time, Satan says it, “Have you not put a hedge around Job?” and Satan is frustrated by the hedge, because he'd like to pummel this man. He hates him, but he can't get at him. God won't let it happen. Job 1:10, “Have you not put a hedge around him in his household and everything he has?” But here Job says, “God has hedged me in, in my misery. I'm in a prison of misery and sorrow and God has bound me in behind and before. He's held me in this place and I can't get out.” So whereas Satan is saying God has hedged Job in for his own protection, Job is saying God has hedged me in for my own misery and sorrow and I can't get out. There's no escape for me.
And he begins to question God. Though he doesn't do it overtly, it's starting to bubble to the surface. He'd like to ask God, even at that point, why God gives life to those who end up suffering. Why God hedges their way in so they suffer and there's nothing they can do. Job's agonies are very great. “Sighing,” he says, “comes to me instead of my food. I have no desire to eat. All I do all day long is sigh. My heart is broken. From deep within, from my intestines, from my heaving stomach, many groans come. My muscles are groaning in pain. Groan upon groan. They pour forth from me like water out of a fountain and they're not going to stop,” and he says, "What I've feared has come upon me. I was always afraid this would happen.”
What about you? Is there anything you fear in this world? What would you put in here? “I always feared this would happen.” What? What do you have in mind? Well, I guess it might be similar to the things Job went through: loss of material possessions, loss of loved ones through death, physical agony coming on your body. That probably would be it. The loss of everything in this world that you find delightful. “I always feared that this would come on me.” So this is a glimpse into Job's heart life even before any of this happened. Like yeah, things are going well, but waiting for the other shoe to drop. That's exactly, isn't it, why Job offered sacrifices for his sons and daughters thinking they might have cursed God in their hearts? To forestall this kind of thing? That some great tragedy might sweep in and snatch them from him, he feared this. I have no peace, no quietness, no rest, just a raging turmoil in my mind. So Job is experiencing, even at this point, extreme anxiety and deep depression all at once, “Why, oh Lord?”
"What about you? Is there anything you fear in this world? What would you put in here? “I always feared this would happen.” What? What do you have in mind?"
V. Beginning to Give Answers
All right, that's the chapter. Now, what are the answers? What are the answers? Well, Job's friends are about to speak. They have some answers. As we'll discover, God willing, next week, they're going to say a lot of right things and they're going to say them in some very wrong ways. So we're going to see what's right and what's wrong about the friends and so we'll push them off to the future, but they do want to give an answer. The desire to give an answer wells up inside them. And since we believe, based on the scripture, in a rational God who's sovereign over everything that on the earth, we do believe that there must be a very good answer or an array of very good answers, but we've come to the limits of our knowledge. Come to the edge of our knowledge. We saw last time the things that Job knew nothing about.
Number one, he didn't know about God's high esteem for him. My sense is that was at the root of his misery, “What does all this mean about God and me? Does God actually hate me? Is he actually against me?” the vertical aspect is the biggest question. Job doesn't know, what God thinks about him, what he expressed about him in the heavenly realms. He doesn't know about it. Secondly, he doesn't know about Satan's activity in destroying him, which God willingly permitted. He wasn't aware of that. And he doesn't understand thirdly, the infinite dimensions of wisdom whereby his suffering actually will make sense. There are reasons why.
Now in his classic, Knowing God, theologian JI Packer writes powerfully of the kind of wisdom that God gives us here on earth. So what can we expect by way of answers? What answers does scripture give? What answer will God give? This chapter in the book Knowing God was entitled: “God's Wisdom and Ours,” and he uses an analogy from the York train station, which is one of the busiest terminals in England, outside of London. He says, “If you were to stand at train level and watch all the trains coming and going, you might be bewildered as to the actions and the schedule and timing of many of those trains. You wouldn't really know what's going on. However, if you had a friend in a high place there who led you up into the control room and you could look at the digital control panel and see on the master panel you could see all of the lights representing the lines and the trains coming in and out, and then he began to give you an education from the train master’s perspective of why this particular train is held on a siding for five minutes, why this one's allowed to go right through without stopping, and on and on, each one of those things has an explanation.” Then JI Packer says this, “The mistake that is commonly made is to suppose that this is an illustration of what God does when he bestows wisdom. People feel that if they were really walking close to God, he would impart wisdom to them freely and they would, so to speak, find themselves elevated into the heavenly realms and get a look at that control panel. They would be at the signal box and they would discern the real reason of everything that's happening to them and to the people they love. They'd get an explanation. If they were walking close with God, that's what you can expect. Well, that's wrong.” Packer is right to set our expectations far below that. During our lifetimes, God does not invite us up into the heavenly realms to hear those heavenly conversations. To gain a perfect perspective on what others have called the mystery of providence, and it is mysterious.
As the apostle Paul said, "Oh, the depth of the riches, of the wisdom and the knowledge of God, how unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out," Romans 11:33. "God's ways on earth cannot be plumbed to their depths, they cannot be searched to their limits, they cannot be tracked in their sequence. Instead of detailed inside information,” Packer says, "God gives theological principles, rules of the road, by which we can drive. We can navigate the twists and turns of the complex road that Providence takes us on.” At the end of that chapter, JI Packer, tied off his meditation with these words: "Let us see to it then that we do not frustrate the wise purpose of God by neglecting faith and faithfulness in order to pursue a kind of knowledge which, in this world, it is not given to us to have."
So let's not neglect faith, let's keep trusting in God, even though we don't have the explanations. And let's not neglect faithfulness; let's do what God's called on us to do in the time we have to do it. Faith feeds our faithfulness. Let's not neglect that, and let's not seek that specialized insider information which Packer says, “in this world, it's not given to us to have.” Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “the secret things belong to the Lord, our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever that we may follow the words of this law.”
"So let's not neglect faith, let's keep trusting in God, even though we don't have the explanations."
So there's two different categories: things revealed, things concealed. There's some things that he has revealed and explained to us and some things he hasn't, in this world, but what about the next world? What about the next world? I believe God will give us an explanation of everything. We have plenty of time and we'll have greatly improved minds and the danger will be past, dear friends, and there'll be no more death, mourning, crying or pain, and can you imagine almighty God shrugging and saying, "You know, I really don't know what I was doing at that moment in your life. Very sorry for your pain. There really was no reason for it, but welcome to heaven." It's impossible. Can you imagine he had a perfectly good reason, but he won't tell it to you? “Yes, I can imagine, why would he tell it?” Because that's the direction of salvation. He's letting you into his councils. We're no longer slaves not knowing the master's business, we're actually adopted children, in which he's explaining himself to us, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I'm about to do? No, I won't hide it. I'm going to explain what I'm doing.” Full explanations, however, will happen in heaven and they will be satisfying. They will be satisfying. You'll delight in them, and you'll have so many “Aha!” moments, and guess what? You won't just care about your own misery and pain and all that. You'll care about your brothers and sisters and the journeys they went through, and you'll see all of the wisdom of God and all of it. You're like, “wow, that's a big study!” We have plenty of time, and at the core of that study is the glory of God. How good and wise and powerful God is in all of this.
As William Cooper said in the hymn I quoted last time, "God is his own interpreter and he will make it plain," just not now. Not now. And he has given us, in the New Testament, some more detailed explanations of the theology of suffering than Job had available to him at his point in redemptive history. We have some more explanations. So let's borrow a few of those lessons and apply them in the remaining time that we have here. Why were you born? Why are we born into a life of sorrow and suffering? First of all, just knowing that there is a very good reason why you were born. You're not here accidentally, that's actually impossible. There are no accidental human beings. None. I understand that there are strange circumstances by which two human beings can come together and a child can be conceived. I understand that those individuals may not have planned the child, but understand God's direct activity in knitting babies together in their mother's wombs. As Job himself will say in Job 10, 10-12, "Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? Clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness and in your providence, you watched over my spirit." Not only are there no accidental babies, it's not accidental that they stay alive and that they do receive what they need to stay alive from infancy and then every day of their lives, it is God's kind providence that they stay alive. It's not accidental. God had a reason.
We know theologically the reason is spiritual. God made you to have a relationship with him. As Augustan put it, "You have made us for yourself, oh Lord, and the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in you." That's why God made Job, and that's why God made you and me. To have a relationship with him. An intimate, loving relationship as Jesus himself said in John 17:3. "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, in Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." So why did he make you if all you're going to do is suffer? Well, if you were chosen from before the foundation of the world to be one of God's children, holy and blameless in his sight, he did not choose you ultimately to suffer. That's not his intention, but rather to dwell in a perfectly glorious world, beyond all death, mourning, crying and pain, and to spend eternity in that world. That's what he chose you for, but as I said at the very beginning of this sermon, the journey there will inevitably involve suffering and pain. It can be no other way.
Part of that, I think, is just God giving us what Adam on our behalf asked for. An education in evil. An education in evil. That's what the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was about. How are we thinking about evil? “Well, I hate it.” You don't hate it enough, but you will hate it with a perfect hatred when you get to heaven. You will, and so will I. We'll be conformed to Jesus who loved righteousness and what? Hates wickedness. We're not going to get a memory wipe and forget all wickedness. We'll benefit from this education and we will, like God, love righteousness and hate wickedness. In the meantime, there's a painful journey we have to go through and it is painful. So why was I even born? Job's deep cry is answered, “So I could know you in eternal life with pleasures forevermore at your right hand,” as Psalm 16:11 says. That's why I was ever born. That's why there were breasts to nurse me and knees to receive me and a mother to wrap me up. That's why. So that I could spend eternity at your right hand with pleasures forever more. That's why God made me.
"So why was I even born? Job's deep cry is answered, “So I could know you in eternal life with pleasures forevermore at your right hand,” as Psalm 16:11 says. That's why I was ever born."
Now, there is a tension between God's goodness and his heavenly purposes. I understand that. We learned about the goodness of God as Job has. Psalm 34 verse eight, “Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” And so you, like Job... Maybe not to his level. Maybe you don't have 5,000 camels, thank God you don't have 5,000 camels, but you've been blessed. You've enjoyed good at God's goodness. You've seen beauty in this world. You've tasted things that have been pleasurable to you. Taste and see that God is good. Every good and perfect gift you ever gotten has come from God. You've tasted and seen that God is good. But what happens when the inner sense of the goodness of God conflicts mightily with what is actually going on in our lives or right around us, or in the world even, as we extend our feelings out to people we don't even know but we care about and they're suffering? There comes an almost, it seems, insoluble tension between the two. “Taste and see that God is good, but this doesn't feel good to me.” And so there's that tension and that tension can stretch our faith, it seems, to the very breaking point.
So what can we possibly say to such a suffering person? What advice would you give him? We'll try to walk through as much of that counsel as we can, if God gives us time in these sermons, not finished at all today. We'll try to walk through. And I would advise such a person, I would advise you: begin by focusing on Christ's sufferings for you. Start there. Start with Christ's sufferings for you on the cross. Draw near to Jesus. Draw near to him. Don't let Satan trick you into getting further away from Jesus during trials. That's a deception, maybe even the central deception. Draw closer to Jesus, to Christ and him crucified. I love the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and the counsel's there again and again. You can't hear that hymn and not understand what the author wants you to do, hymn writer: “Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all are sorrow share? Jesus knows our every weakness. Take it to the Lord in prayer.” This is just reflecting what the author to Hebrews says in Hebrews chapter 2, verse 17 and 18 concerning Jesus, “For this reason, he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” Our merciful and faithful high priest has once for all, by his bloody death on the cross, made atonement for the sins of his people for all time. And through faith in Christ, sinners like you and me can be completely forgiven for all time of our sins. And Hebrews 2:18 says, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” He's able to help you. He knows what suffering's about.
Hebrews 4, 15 and 16 says, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Draw near to Christ. He sympathizes; that's why he wept in front of Lazarus's tomb, it's out of sympathy for Martha and Mary and for us. He knows this feeling, he knows what it's like to suffer far better than you or I ever will. Wasn't it Jesus who asked that why question on the cross as he's dying under the wrath of God and he cried out, “‘Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani,’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” There's a why question.
And he received no answer then and neither will we in this world, but in heaven, all things will be made plain and we will learn the true purpose behind every pain we ever endured. Christ's sufferings were to atone for our sins. I'm going to say this again over the next several weeks, but we cannot excuse ourselves from sin when we're suffering. We can't say, “Well, I know it's not because I sinned that I'm suffering. I know that we learn from the book of Job, that there's a... It's possible to be blameless and upright, one who fears God, and I know therefore that the suffering in my life is not connected to my sin.” Do you really know that? Are you like Job?
The fact is some of our suffering is connected to our sins. Sometimes we need to just say, Lord, is there something in my life that is displeasing you? Is there something, and if something immediately pops in your mind you know what that is. Then it's an opportunity to repent. It's an opportunity to ask God forgiveness. But Christ's sufferings were in our place for our sins; 1 Peter 2, 24 and 25 says of Jesus, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed for you are like sheep going astray but now you have returned to the shepherd and overseer of your souls.” So when you are suffering in your trial, whenever it is, maybe it's going on now, maybe it's in the future, just look to the infinitely, greater suffering of Jesus in your place on the cross. Trust in him.
Your sins don't necessarily directly lead to your sufferings, but our sins did directly lead to Jesus' sufferings. Ponder that. Your sins don't necessarily directly lead to your sufferings, but our sins directly lead led to his. Why else would he have suffered? It's because he was suffering as our substitute. Now occasionally, like I said, you know that there's sin in your life. You know that there are issues and it could be there's a connection between your sins and your sufferings. That's where Hebrews 12 comes in. God does discipline us for our sins from time to time; we'll talk more about this next time, but Hebrews 12, we'll just read it without comment, we'll talk more next time, it says, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood and you've forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons. My son do not make light of the Lord's discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you because the Lord disciplines those he loves and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. So endure hardship as discipline. God is treating you as sons for what son is not disciplined by his father?” like I said, we're going to more fully develop this, God willing, next time.
So, draw near to the suffering. John Calvin, in his marvelous sermon on early text in Job said, "The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away, makes a powerful point about Job's embracing of his sorrows." He noticed that when he said that Job tore his robes, he shaved his head, he threw himself on the ground and worshiped. He said, "this is a role model for us. We should see the hand of God in all of our suffering. Because the Lord is sovereign, we can know it is the Lord who has done this and because he is wise, we can know that he knows what he's doing and that there's a very wise rational purpose behind it. Because the Lord is good, his purposes toward us and toward others are very good." So don't numb yourself at that time. Don't deny what's happening. Step into it. Go towards it. Some unbelievers numb themselves with alcohol and drugs and other escapes.
John Calvin said, "Those who are patient bear well their affliction." There is actually no valor in a man who's suffering but is completely unaware of his suffering. There's no virtue in it. It's terrible physical suffering, but he's not aware of it like someone in a coma, something like that. But when you know what's happening, you have the opportunity to glorify God. You're aware. Job is very aware of what happened. So face the facts. Look at what's happening. Say, “this has happened. This is hurting me. This occurred. God is doing it. It's not an accident. There's an intention, a purpose, in this.” Face the facts. I'm reminded of Romans 4, 19-21 about Abraham, “Without weakening in his faith, Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and that Sarah's womb was also dead, yet he did not waiver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
So step into the suffering, into the circumstance, talk about it, take it back up to God in prayer, don't numb yourself or distant yourself from it or say, “I just won't think about it.” Don't do that. It's a chance to glorify God. Be thoughtful in your suffering. Ask why is this happening of the Lord, but not in an angry way. Don't say, “Why me oh God?” as though there could be no possible reason. Say, “Why me, oh Lord?” and wait for the answer. Let God give you insights into what he may be doing in your life. Then finally, and we're going to learn this, this is the lesson of the book of Job: God is enough. In the end, you will find God is enough. You're not going to get all the explanations. You may not get any explanations, but God is enough and live like that; put that on display in the people around you: That God is enough. Close in prayer.
Lord, thank you for the things that we've learned. Thank you for the timeless message of Job 3. It's not a chapter that I've ever really stepped into and immersed myself and tried to understand before, but I realize, oh Lord, that you and your wisdom have given us all of these chapters so that we can understand what suffering really is like and that we can suffer well and trust in you and grow through it. Lord strengthen us and I pray that you'd help us to draw close to Christ crucified and resurrected, our savior. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.