Tuesday, January 19, 2016

When Life Falls Apart

Part 1 of Why?

Text: Job 1:1-22

You can listen to this sermon here.

Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? … But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 1:9-11). 


Life can go from good to bad in an instant. A phone call, a knock on the door, or a visit to the doctor can change everything. When life falls apart, we ask, “Why? Why me? Why this? Why now? Why?”

Job was a man whose life fell apart. He lost everything: his wealth, his family, and his health. And most of the book of Job is about Job and his friends asking, “Why?”

Loving God for Just the Benefits?

God said to Satan [1], “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (1:8). Satan wasn’t impressed. He replied, “Does Job fear God for no reason?” (1:9). Satan believed that Job loved God because God had blessed him. So he said to God, “[Take away] all that he has, and he will curse you to your face” (1:11). When life falls apart, how is it possible to love God?

Even when life falls apart, we can love God because we have proof that he loves us. 

An Innocent Sufferer

For Job, life was good. He was “the greatest of all the people of the east” (1:3). But there came a day when everything changed. On that awful day, Job was given one piece of devastating news after another: the Sabeans stole his oxen and donkeys (vv. 14-15); fire from heaven killed his sheep (v. 16); the Chaldeans stole his camels (v. 17); and, worst of all, a storm killed his children (vv. 18-19).

Job didn’t understand why his life had fallen apart. He wasn’t reaping what he had sowed. He was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (1:1). He was an innocent sufferer.

Why Is There Innocent Suffering?

Job believed that God is sovereign and could have prevented his suffering. In his grief, he declared, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (1:21). If God is all-loving and all-powerful, why did Job suffer? The book of Job doesn’t give us the answer to this question. How can God expect us to love him if he doesn't give us the answer?

The Ultimate Innocent Sufferer

Years later, there lived another blameless and upright man. But his obedience to God didn’t bring him prosperity. Instead, he was betrayed, beaten, and executed. He was once described as “a man of sorrows.” [2] As he was dying, he cried out to God, “Why?” [3]

Who was this man? It was Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate Job. He is the ultimate innocent sufferer.

When our “Why?” questions go unanswered, we should remember what God said to us through the cross.

Through the cross, God says, "I love you." Let’s not forget who Jesus is. Jesus is God in human flesh. (God is three-in-one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.) God “knows what suffering is all about, not merely in the way that God knows everything, but by experience.” [4] God chose to become an innocent sufferer. And why did he choose to suffer? He chose to suffer so that one day our suffering would come to an end.

Do You Really Love God? 

When Satan tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God, his strategy was to get them to doubt God’s love for them: “God doesn’t really love you?” Satan tried the same strategy on God: “Does Job really love you?” God, without wavering, answered, “Yes, he does.” What an honour it would be for God to say the same thing about us!

The cross should convince us that God loves us. If we’re not convinced that God loves us, we’ll probably turn from him when suffering comes into our lives.

[1] There’s lots of speculation about why and how this conversation between God and Satan took place, but this sermon will focus on the conversation itself.
[2] “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3).
[3] “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).
[4] D. A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil, 159.

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