There was a preacher who was shaking hands with people after church. One man said, “That was the most boring sermon I ever heard.”
Two minutes, he comes back through the line and says “That was more boring than the sermon you gave last week.”
Three minutes later, he comes back through the line and says “you haven’t had anything good to say in months.”
The pastor goes up to one of the deacons and says “What’s the story with that guy? Why is he so mean?”
The deacon says “Don’t mind him. He’s senile. He just goes around repeating everything he hears.”
That minister was having a bad day! How many of you ever have bad days? How many of you had one this week? How many of you are having one RIGHT NOW?
Maybe you got turned down for a job that you really wanted. And it ruined your mood for the rest of the day. Maybe problems in your business just piled up in one single day…that really disappointed you…Or maybe your best friend told you he didn’t want to be your friend anymore. And it broke your heart.
No matter what it is, we ALL have bad days.
Tonight, we’re going to meet someone who had one of the worst days anyone EVER had. I’m going to tell the story. Then we’re going to talk about what to do the next time WE have a bad day.
The first five verses of chapter one set the stage. Job is a God fearing man living in the land of Uz, which is somewhere in Saudi Arabia. He has a big family.
And not only does he have a big family, he has a FUN family! Verse four says that they get together and have parties all the time!
And when he’s not partying with the family, he’s supervising his mega farm! He has 7000 sheep. 3000 camels. 500 yoke of oxen. And 500 donkeys. Plus he has a whole staff of servants waiting on him hand and foot.
If the story ends here, I would be saying, “Wow, this guy has a charmed life! He has a fun family. A booming business. A great relationship with God! Lord, if I can have all that, then I’m ready to sign the papers right now!! Count me in!
But this is where the story takes a turn. In verse six, the scene switches from earth to heaven. The angels take their seats in the heavenly council. Satan is there, too. Maybe you’re thinking, “What’s HE doing up there? I know we’re going to be surprised to see certain people in heaven. But this is ridiculous! Satan is the LAST person I would expect to see! What’s going on here?”
Believe it or not, the devil is like a dog on a leash. And he needs permission from on high to test the people of faith. How do I know that? Because Psalm 97:9 says “For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.” And that includes Satan.
So God says to Satan “Where have you been?” Satan says, “I’ve been roaming around.”
Well, we know from the Bible that the devil doesn’t just “roam around” doing nothing. 1 Peter 5:8 says that “The devil roams around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
God knows this. So he says, “I bet you can’t get my servant Job. He is a man of integrity. And He has a wonderful relationship with me.”
And Satan says, “Well, of course he has a wonderful relationship with you! You’ve given him everything a man could want! What do you expect? If you gave me everything I wanted, I would have a wonderful relationship with you! But I bet that if you stretch out your hand and strike everything Job has, then he will curse you to your face.”
Then the Lord says, “I’ll take that bet. Everything the man has is in your hands. But on the man himself, do not lay a finger.”
There’s something here that I need to mention.
1. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE A PERIOD OF TESTING.
One moment, you can be enjoying life. Things seem to be calm and under control. Your worries may be minimal and your relationships are satisfying. Your spiritual walk seems so deep and intimate with God.
- The next minute, the life that seemed so good, so right, so blessed by God, is now leaving you dazed and confused.
- There comes a time in every life that all hell breaks loose.
- Tragedy usually comes suddenly… unexpectedly… cataclysmically.
- Testing wears many masks.
- Lost job
- Business adventure goes sour.
- A marriage dissolves.
- A child rebels.
- A loved one is diagnosed with cancer.
- Your daughter miscarries her baby.
- Suffering usually doesn’t make sense.
- Everything you thought and knew about life, faith and God seem irrelevant when you are in pain.
- After the dust settles, questions surface and doubts start flooding in:
- Why God. Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? What’s wrong with me? Why are You doing this to me?
Can we expect any comfort at all when our questions go unanswered? Can we expect any comfort and relief when all hell breaks loose? YES WE CAN! We must never lose heart why because it simply means that God is taking an active interest in the direction of your life. God is saying “I’m going to do whatever it takes to make you more like Jesus Christ. I’m going to do whatever I can to turn your heart away from worldly things and more toward spiritual things. I want everyone to see that your trust is in me when times are good. And your trust is in me even when times are NOT good!”
First of all, everything we experience in life is a test. Those who love God are not exempt from trouble. God is asking “Will you hand this situation over to Me? Will you trust Me and look to me and pray to Me about your problems? Will you lean on Me even when life is hard?”
We may not fully understand the pain we experience, it can lead us to rediscover God.
A second thing to remember is that
2. GOD USES THE GOOD THINGS AND THE BAD THINGS TO MAKE US BETTER CHRISTIANS.
A while back, I was reading that the only way a lump of coal will ever become a diamond is if it goes through a process involving intense pressure. The coal is put under such strain and stress and heat so that over the course of time, it is transformed into a glorious diamond.
The same process is true of the Christian life. God is using all of the pressures and strains and stresses of this life to transform us into the glorious image of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6 says that these trials have come so that your faith may be proved genuine, and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
God allows Satan to test Job. And in verse 13, Satan wastes no time in going to work. While the sons and daughters are feasting, a messenger goes to Job and says “The Sabeans attacked and carried off the oxen and the donkeys. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger goes to Job and says, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking another messenger goes up to Job and says, “The Chaldeans attacked and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger goes to Job and says, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the older brother’s house when a mighty wind swept in and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them, and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
Job was having a very bad day. How would you handle a day like that? What should we do when bad things happen to God’s people?
Some of us shake our fists. We say, “If you’re an all powerful, all loving God, then why did you let this happen? Why didn’t you do something? You’re not a God of love! You’re mean!”
Satan was hoping that this is how Job would respond.
But watch Job’s reaction in verse 20. When he hears the news about his kids. He gets up. He tears his robe. And he shaves his head as a sign of mourning.
Then Job falls to the ground. And he worships the Lord: He says “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised.” In other words, “Lord, this is your world, and you have the right to run it anyway You wish. But even in my hour of sadness, I trust you completely. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
What an incredible response! Job trusted God. Even when he had every reason to be angry. Even when his heart was filled with pain. Even when he had no idea what was going on.
And that makes Satan mad! In chapter one, he attacks Job’s wealth. And now in chapter two, he attacks Job’s health. He covers Job from head to toe with painful sores. And Job is so itchy that he takes a piece of broken pottery and he scrapes himself with it.
But even though his wife tries to get him to curse God and die, even though his friends try to tell him that somehow this is all his fault, even though Job has his moments of doubt and pain, he never turns away from the Lord. In Job 19:25, he says “I know that my Redeemer Lives, and in the latter day, he shall stand upon the earth. And even though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God! I myself will see Him and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” In other words, ’Someday, this will all be explained! Someday, God will give me the answers I desire! Some day, I will meet Him face to face! Some sweet and glorious day, all things will be rectified, and I will be vindicated before Almighty God!’
And that’s what happens. In chapters 38-41, God appears to Job and says “In the same way you cannot fully comprehend the mysteries of the physical world, you cannot fully comprehend the mystery of human suffering. The only thing you need to know right now is that I am the Creator of the universe and you can trust Me.”
And Job basically says “Sounds good to me!” Actually, he’s so awestruck by the presence of God that he totally forgets about the questions he was going to ask!
Sometimes I hear Christians say “When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask God all the questions I never got to ask Him on earth.” And I’m thinking, “No you’re not. You’re going to meet the Almighty Creator of the universe, and you’re going to fall flat on your face! You’re going to hit the dirt!
But the story ends well for Job. Later on in Job 42, God rewards Job for his faith. He ends up with twice as much stuff as he had before. And he lives happily ever after.
The message for us is that TRUSTING GOD IN THE TRIALS OF LIFE WILL BE REWARDED! The apostle Paul learns the same thing in the New Testament. In 2 Corinthians 4, he talks about all the suffering in his life since becoming a missionary for Christ.
But then beginning in verse 17, he says that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Therefore, we do not fix our eyes on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
In other words, “what we’re going through now is NOTHING compared to the awesome rewards that are waiting for us up in heaven! I can’t wait to get there! I can’t wait to be with Jesus!” Trusting God in the trials of life will be rewarded!
I was just reading an article about a lady named Genelle. She was trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center for 27 hours. Everything seemed hopeless. But then she remembered her mom and her strong faith in God. And so she prayed, “Lord, I know that you are there. I haven’t always trusted you. But now I am asking you to help me.”
She kept talking to God the whole time she was trapped. By the next morning, all the feeling in her right leg was gone. And without food or water, she knew she couldn’t survive much longer.
And so she prayed, “Lord, I won’t get out of here without a miracle. But now I have you. And that’s the only miracle that really matters. Thy will be done.”
Minutes later, she heard a voice say, “Is anyone down there?” And she said, “Yes!” And she stretched out her hand. And a man grabbed it and said, “My name is Paul. Don’t be afraid. I’ll hold your hand until they get you out of here.”
When they pulled her out, she asked the rescue team, “Which one is Paul? I want to thank him myself.”
And one of the men said, “Who?” And she said, “Paul. The one who was holding my hand.” And the man said, “There is no guy named Paul on our rescue team.”
Later on, she said, “I realize now that God was the one who was holding my hand. Since September 11th, that touch on my life has never left me.”
We all have bad days. But Jesus Christ is the One who can bring you through with flying colors. Jesus Christ is the One who can take the difficult things in life and use them to make you wiser and stronger.
This morning, we’re going to pray about our problems. Maybe it’s a marriage problem. And you want God to save your marriage.Or maybe it’s a money problem. And you need financial wisdom from on high. Whatever it may be, let’s hand it over to God in prayer. Let’s bow our heads in reverence before the Lord.