As we saw last week, we all suffer in thus earthly life, and it seems that Job was getting the worst of it. Last week we discussed why God allows the righteous and the wrong to suffer https://sundayschoolbiblestudy.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/why-does-god-allow-the-righteous-to-suffer .
But here in Job 19, our poor friend Job still hasn’t learned that lesson. We can see the lesson now because we have the entire Bible that offers a complete perspective, but suffering Job didn’t have the Bible. As a matter of fact, did you know Job is the earliest-written book in the Bible? (Obviously the book of Genesis gives the creation account so it retells the oldest period in history, but it was written by Moses who lived after Job.)
Then Job answered and said:
“How long will you torment my soul, And break me in pieces with words?
These ten times you have reproached me; You are not ashamed that you have wronged me.
And if indeed I have erred, My error remains with me.
If indeed you exalt yourselves against me, And plead my disgrace against me,
~ Job 19:1-5
Job is incredible pain here, with suffering in his own body and flesh, but he is also suffering miles down deep in his very soul. He is in absolute torture and misery – complete distress.
There are so many verses in God ‘s Word that can help us through suffering.
The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
~ Psalm 34:18
He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.
~ Psalm 147:3
My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
~ Psalm 73:26 (Job could have found comfort in this one!)
Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
~ Isaiah 41:10
“God never allows pain without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, nor circumstances, nor any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His Son”. ~ Jerry Bridges
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
~ Romans 8:28-29
We have a great example in Exodus with Moses and the young Hebrew nation. They had just come out of persecution in Egypt, God had just recently delivered them across the Red Sea. The Lord was providing for them at every turn because He is faithful!
So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.
Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.
And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”
So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them.
Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.
~ Exodus 15:22-25, 27
It’s important to remember that God led the Israelites to this place of bitter water. It was exactly where he wanted them to be. Why? He was teaching them. Has God ever led you and I on a path that took us to harsh and bitter place? Of course he has. It’s exactly where he wanted you. Why? To teach you.
So what healed the bitterness for Israel? A tree – “the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.”
What can heal us? A tree!
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),
that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. ~ Galatians 3:13-14
Jesus hung on a tree, or a wooden cross made from a tree, so that we can be healed of our bitter state – our sin.
God then leads the Hebrew nation to a place of abundant blessings with 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees. If you’ve accepted Jesus death on the cross as payment for your sin, your place of abundant blessings awaits you. Take comfort in that today. Even in the pain of this life, God is bringing you to a place comfort, relief, and blessing!
Our account of Job continues:
Know then that God has wronged me, And has surrounded me with His net.
“If I cry out concerning wrong, I am not heard. If I cry aloud, there is no justice.
He has fenced up my way, so that I cannot pass; And He has set darkness in my paths.
He has stripped me of my glory, And taken the crown from my head.
He breaks me down on every side, And I am gone; My hope He has uprooted like a tree.
He has also kindled His wrath against me, And He counts me as one of His enemies.
His troops come together And build up their road against me; They encamp all around my tent.
~ Job 19:6-12
Job is responding to the accusations and the pain and the suffering like many of us would. He’s saying “I’ve done nothing wrong! Why God?? Why is the happening to me??” He’s crying out to God. He is voicing his pain.
However, Job says some things that show that he misunderstands God doesn’t he?
“If I cry out concerning wrong, I am not heard.”
“In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.”
~ Psalm 18:6
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
~ Psalm 34:17
And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.
~ Exodus 3:7
“He has fenced up my way, so that I cannot pass; And He has set darkness in my paths.”
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
~ John 8:12
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
~ Psalm 119:105
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
~ 1 John 1:5
“He has stripped me of my glory, And taken the crown from my head.
He breaks me down on every side, And I am gone; My hope He has uprooted like a tree.”
My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
~ Psalm 62:5-8
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Often in our anguish, we call out to God in our sense of hopelessness. But we need to remember that we are crying out to a God who is our hope! While we look at our present circumstances, God is looking at our future glory! While we see utter despair all around us, He sees beautiful blessing in our future!
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV
Have you ever tried to look through a brown glass bottle? It’s actually pretty difficult to see what is on the other side. You can catch glimpses of what is behind the bottle, but you certainly can’t see through it clearly. That’s how we see eternity. “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” We can spot little bits and patches of how God might be stitching things together to work in our lives. But we cannot possibly see the entire quilt that covers us with His warmth, protection, loving grace and mercy until we get to heaven and God allows us to see it all.
I love the way this verse creates a word-picture that I can understand! Life is like that brown glass bottle. We can only barely see through it while God has the big picture view in mind.
There is not much that hurts more than being in incredible pain and at the same time feeling abandoned by everyone. That’s what Job describes next.
He has removed my brothers far from me, And my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.
My relatives have failed, And my close friends have forgotten me.
Those who dwell in my house, and my maidservants, Count me as a stranger; I am an alien in their sight.
I call my servant, but he gives no answer; I beg him with my mouth.
My breath is offensive to my wife, And I am repulsive to the children of my own body.
Even young children despise me; I arise, and they speak against me.
All my close friends abhor me, And those whom I love have turned against me.
My bone clings to my skin and to my flesh, And I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
~ Job 19:13-20
Perhaps you’ve been in a terribly painful place. If that is in your past, know that it is history, it is part of who you are, and the God of the universe has brought you through it. He allowed it to happen for a reason, or for many reasons. Perhaps he allowed the painful junk to occur to make you into someone He can use in the lives of others. He certainly allowed you to be changed through it didn’t He? You are not the same person you were before that heartache.
When it feels like everyone has abandoned you, and perhaps it feels like even God has abandoned you, know that He did not. If you are still here, reading this, it’s because God has great plans for you!
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
~ Jeremiah 29:11-14
Remember, God does have a plan for you – (“I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope”).
He has a beautiful future for you! In order to grab hold of that hope and that future, you have to grab hold of Jesus! “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
He is there, just waiting to be found by you. Call out to Him!
What is His response when we call out to Him to find Him?
“I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.”
Don’t rely on the world to save you, the world cannot save you from your pain or your distress. Don’t rely on your friends, your relatives, or yourself. There is only One who can save.
The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
~ Zephaniah 3:17
In the end, Job realizes that his friends cannot save him. There is only One who can.
Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends, For the hand of God has struck me!
Why do you persecute me as God does, And are not satisfied with my flesh?
Oh, that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock With an iron pen and lead, forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
If you should say, ‘How shall we persecute him?’—Since the root of the matter is found in me,
Be afraid of the sword for yourselves; For wrath brings the punishment of the sword, That you may know there is a judgment.
~ Job 19:21-29
Job knows that he is looking through a glass darkly. He cannot see the big picture of his life. But He also says he knows “that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth”. Job recognizes that God is on the throne and in control!
In the end, if you are a Christian, you will see God and He will show you the huge quilt that He stitched together, creating a masterpiece of your life.
“And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another.” Job 19:26-27
There is so much hope!
Lastly, how does God want us to respond to someone in distress?
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
~ Proverbs 17:17
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
~ John 13:34-35
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4