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Job 2:1-10
Series:  When Things Go Wrong - Part Two

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
September 9, 2001

Please turn with me to Job chapter two starting at verse one. Today we’re continuing on in our look at the first two chapters of the book of Job - looking together at God’s guidance for us during the times in our lives when things go very wrong.

Kamerino is young child who was living in the southern part of Sudan. In the Sudan life is hard at best. One day - in desperation - Kamerino and some of his young friends went out looking for anything edible they could find. What they found instead of food were muslim soldiers who were carrying on their Jihad against Christians in the southern Sudan. These boys - Christians - ran. But, it was too late. They’d been seen.

The boys fled into the grass of a nearby field hoping that the soldiers would give up looking for them. But instead, the soldiers set the field on fire. When the boys ran out of the field they were shot dead by the soldiers. Kamerino stayed in the burning field and was severely burned.

After the fire went out the soldiers came back looking for the last boy. Kamerino was so badly burned that they assumed he was dead and they left him. Villagers found him - barely clinging to life - his body charred - and he was taken to a hospital.

Today, Kamerino - this Christian young boy - lives in an orphanage in Uganda. The physical scars - the memories - the life long pain and suffering will be with him for the rest of his life.

Why should something like this happen? Especially to someone who loves Jesus? Maybe the experience of Kamerino goes beyond what we experience. But the same question often crosses our minds. Through times of suffering - illness - Alzheimer's - debilitating arthritis - paralysis - watching our loved ones slowly slip away in dementia and pain - and we could go on. When there’s no hope of cure or relief - we wonder, “How could God let this happen? Why doesn’t He step in and do something? Is He even listening to my prayers?”

The Book of Job - in part - is given to us by God to help answers these questions. They may not be the answers we want. They may be hard to hear. But, this profound book touches on these deep themes more than any other book in the Bible and gives us the guidance we need.

Job 2:1: Again there was a day when the sons of God - the angels - came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.”

Let’s pause here and understand what we’re being shown. Last Sunday, in Job chapter one - we were introduced to Job - a godly man - a loving father - a very wealthy man living in Uz - east of Canaan - probably around the time of Abraham. Job was a real man - like us - trying to live life in obedience and reverence for God. Last week we saw how Job was subjected to a severe test of his faith in which Satan was permitted by God to take everything away from Job - everything except for Job’s health and life. This is the “ruin” that God is speaking of in verse 3. Job was absolutely devastated - broken. And yet, Job responds by faithfully trusting God.

Job chapter two is like the second act of the drama - Job’s second test. In verses 1 to 3, what God is allowing us to glimpse is a behind the scenes look at what’s really going on in Job’s life - behind the props - behind the backdrop - to the invisible spiritual realm around us - the realm of God and Satan - of angels and demons.

We’re given a glimpse of the throne room of God. From all over the vastness of creation the sons of God - thousands and thousands - countless numbers of angels - have gathered into this vast throne room before the presence of God Himself - to report on their activities. As vast as creation is, God is in control of it all. All of creation is accountable to Him. Nothing takes God by surprise. Nothing goes beyond the authority of His word and will.

After God allows Satan to ruin Job - to test Job - after Job responds in faith - God again challenges Satan, “Now what do you think of My servant Job? With all that you did to him, he still trusts Me!”

Verse 4: Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.”

“Skin for skin” is a way of saying that we love ourselves more than anything or anyone else. Put another way, Satan is saying that Job was willing to sacrifice his possessions and family to save himself. They didn’t matter to him as much as his own life. So, Satan goes one step further. “God, the reason Job stayed faithful is that You didn’t let me go far enough. Let me touch his skin - his life - and then see if he remains faithful.”

Verse 6: So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.”

There are two truths, in verses 1 to 6, that in times of physical suffering are crucial for us to be reminded of. First, so much of what we see happening around us is a very small part of the reality of our lives. There are dimensions to our suffering that we do not see. Here, God is inviting us to be aware of those dimensions. Second, God is in unquestioned control over what happens. As rebellious and as malicious as Satan is he continually must ask God for permission to act against God’s people. He never even attempts to go beyond what God allows. He can’t. He has no power to do it.

Going on - verse 7 - this is the description of what Satan does to Job: Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he - Job - took a potshard to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes.

Among scholars there’s some disagreement about what the boils actually were - perhaps leprosy. What’s important is not what the disease was - but the effect of the disease. From the top of his head to the bottom of his feet Job is covered with these extremely painful - agonizing - sores. It’s not hard to imagine puss running from the open wounds - that Job’s body is distorted - bloated - discolored - disfigured.

The only relief he has is to use pieces of broken pottery to scrape the sores. If you’ve ever had a rash or burn or bite you know - in part - what this is like. Just itching feels good - tearing at the skin. It makes it itch more. But it feels so good to itch that it seems worth the pain.

For Job, there is no relief in site. He is condemned to suffer. Job sits in the ashes - a sign of mourning. He sits in the dust of the street. An ugly - repulsive - sight to see. People probably looked at Job and turned away in disgust - perhaps even crossing to the other side of the street to avoid any possible contact with Job.

Verse 9: Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!”

Sometimes I hear people really get down on Job’s wife. But, we need to have sympathy for this woman. Seemingly overnight, she’s gone from being the wife of one of the most respected men in the east to a homeless outcast. Like Job, she’s lost everything. And now her husband is sitting in the street - suffering from a life debilitating disease - the point of the town’s disgust.

But, unlike Job - Mrs. Job has caved into Satan’s attack. She’s no longer looking at God as loving and just. She sees God as unfaithful - detached - uncaring. The promises of God are not true.

Have you ever felt this way? “I’ve tried trusting God. But, where is He? How could He allow this to happen? Why doesn’t He put a stop to this?”

That’s what Satan wants from us. To curse God and die. To complain. To get angry. To be bitter. To stop going to church. To stop reading our Bibles. To stop praying. In chronic illness and suffering to look only at our immediate circumstances and to doubt God’s love and faithfulness towards us. To doubt God and to turn away from Him.

And so, Job’s wife - the one person Job should have been able to look to for comfort and support in this illness - Job’s wife becomes a tool in Satan’s hand - a further humiliation - a part of the test. Job’s wife rips into Job’s heart. “Job,” she says, “Forget your faith in God. Curse God and die!” Its hard to even begin to imagine how Job must have felt.

Verse 10: But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

In all of this, Job remains faithful. Job passes the second test.

In thinking through this time in Job’s life and how all this applies to our lives - there are two thoughts of I’d like to share.

First: When we suffer physically it is a privilege that God gives to us.

Corrie ten Boom is probably best known for her book “The Hiding Place” which tells how she and her family had hidden Jews during World War II in Holland until their betrayal and arrest by the Nazis. During her lifetime Corrie ten Boom traveled all over the world speaking to people about God’s love and care even in the most difficult experiences of our lives.

In 1976, Pam Rosewell, became Corrie ten Boom’s “companion” - her live-in executive assistant and travel companion. Shortly afterwards, Corrie suffered a stroke. Hospitalization followed. Physical therapy. Then long - loving hours at home. Corrie regain some of her mobility - until the next strokes hit. She never regained her speech.

Pam Rosewell, in her book “The Five Silent Years of Corrie ten Boom” writes about how - even without speech and from a bed in her home - during five long years of debilitating physical illness until her death in 1983 - Corrie carried on her ministry - testifying of God’s love and care - touching the lives of those around her.

Reflecting on those 5 years, Pam Rosewell writes this, “Corrie often told me, ‘It is not so much what happens, but how we take it that is important.’” Pam writes, “Through the hard circumstances of the last years of her life, the Lord had shown me a paradox: The deepest fellowship with Him lies in not resisting when suffering comes our way, but in going through it resolutely with Him.”

Job’s wife tells him, “Curse God and die!” Put another way, “Job, commit suicide. End it all.”

Prevalent in our society is the philosophy that we’re here to have a good time - to have our needs met and to enjoy life. We consider “quality of life” issues and viability as a justification for going on in life. If hurts too much just pull the plug - just end it all. And, maybe take others with you. But Job reminds us that life isn’t lived in those terms. Life has value and purpose even when it hurts - under pressure - in pain - life is worth living. A philosophy that wants to “end it all” when things go wrong is empty - shallow - wrong - a distorted view of life.

I’ve read that C.S. Lewis once answered the question, “Why should the righteous suffer?” He answered, replying, “Why not? They’re the only ones that can handle it.” We handle it because of God’s relationship with us.

How foolish it would be for us to only accept good things from God. God, in His grace and mercy and lovingkindness, gives us so many good things - blessings that many times we don’t even see - we’re not even conscious of - that many times we take for granted - hours - years of joy and pleasure - peace - provision - and security. How can we - when there is some adversity - suddenly become angry with God - to doubt that He is still there?

We’re often tempted to think that God may have allowed Satan to go beyond the limits of what we can take. But, its God who sets the conditions of the test - the boundaries - the limitations. And, like Job - when we suffer physically - it is a privilege God gives us - a time of testing - of proving - of refining - of rediscovering God’s grace, love, and nearness.

Second thought: When we suffer physically it is an opportunity God gives to us to testify of Him.

Do you remember the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life?” Do you remember the scene at the end of the movie? Jimmy Stewart - who’s been depressed and angry about the seeming worthlessness of his life - on the verge of committing suicide - with the help of this angel Clarence - Jimmy Stewart learns that he really has had a wonderful - valuable - purposeful life that has touched so many others. In the last scene his family and friends - the whole town - including some of this adversaries - show up and pour out their affection to him and come together to meet his physical needs.

In Job 40:10 - at the end of all this testing - we read that “The Lord restored the fortunes of Job.” Job’s extended family - his friends - they all come together to support Job. God blesses Job with double the amount of sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys that he had before. God blesses Job with seven more sons and 3 more daughters. Job goes on to live another 140 years and see four more generations of his progeny being born. Job 40:17 says that, “Job died, an old man and full of days.”

James writes - in James 5:11: “We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”

For centuries Job has remained an encouragement - and example to follow in the midst of suffering - and even among people who have little understanding of God. What would have happened if Job had caved in - cursed God and died? What a testimony of God’s graciousness we have because he didn’t.

We never suffer alone or in vain. Others are watching. They will see if we will trust God and how God will care for us.

The testimony of Job is sobering. The answers may not be the answers we want to hear or may even understand this side of eternity. But God is honest with us - there is guidance here that opens our eyes to the character and the sovereignty of the God who deals with us and how He works in our lives.

There’s a question that remains before everyone of us this morning. Will we pass the test - remaining faithful to our relationship with God - and so glorify Him?