The Gospel According to Job

Today, I want to bring out this book, out into the spotlight.  It is a tremendous devotional that makes its way through the book of Job.  I have leaned on it, and it has held me nicely.  I challlenge you to get a copy of this, and to let it work in the confines of your spirit and mind. ––Bryan

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Excerpt from “The Gospel According to Job,” by Mike Mason

 

“An Honest Look at Pain and Doubt from the Life of One who Lost Everything”

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A“Once I met a man who, like Abraham, had moved his entire household halfway around the world on the strength of a vision from God. When I asked him to tell me the story, he answered that there were three versions of that story, and which one did I want to hear? First, there was the version of the story that he told to Christians. Then there was the version he told to non-Christians. Finally, there was the truth. Job is a book that tells things from the third point of view. Probably, along with Ecclesiastes, it does this better than any other book in the Bible.

Not that the other Scriptures do not tell the truth. But Job tells the truth in a way that makes it almost impossible to pervert the truth into pious pabulum. A few years ago I went through a difficult time. Never mind what the problem was. It was nothing compared to the trials of Job. In fact, it was nothing at all compared to the sufferings of many of my neighbors right there on the quiet street where I lived.

But pain is pain, and suffice it to say that my pain was enough to drive me to my knees, totally defeated, half-crazy at times, and crying out for relief. Month after month the battles raged on, thick, dark, agonizing. I prayed, but somehow prayer did not ‘work.’ Usually nothing at all worked, except lying low and gritting my teeth until, for reasons entirely obscure to me, the straightjacket of oppression began to loosen a little––at least enough for me to get on with my life for another day or so before the screws tightened again. What else could I do? How was I to fight this?

In retrospect I can see that a large part of my anguish was rooted in the fact that there really was nothing I could do to control what was happening to me. I was absolutely helpless, and it is this, perhaps, that is the soul of suffering, this terrifying impotence. It is a little taste of the final and most terrifying impotence of all, which is death.

We Christians do not like to think about being absolutely helpless in the hands of our God. With all of our faith, and with all of His grace, we still prefer to maintain some semblance of control over our lives. When difficulties arise, we like to think that there are certain steps we can take, or attitudes we can adopt, to alleviate our anguish and be happy. Sometimes there are. But anyone who has truly suffered will know that when it comes to the real thing there is no help for it, no human help whatsoever.

Simply put, when we are in a deep dark hole we cannot think our way out; neither can we hope, sing, pray, or even love our way out. In fact there is absolutely nothing either we or anyone else can do to better our situation. We can have faith, yes; but in itself faith will not change anything. Neither faith, nor any other good thing that a person might have or do, can actually lift the cloud, move the mountain, or bring about an end to the problem.

Only the Lord Himself can do that, and when He does, as Exodus 6:6 puts it, “Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke.” How will we know? Simply because nothing and no one else could possibly have done it. In this kind of crucible, therefore, we come to a new understanding of what it means to be saved, what it means to be snatched away from the brink of destruction.

Here we get down to the bedrock of the gospel. During my night of anguish, I turned to the book of Job, and there I began to make contact with the gospel in a way that somehow I never had in studying the New Testament. Reading Job, I found myself experiencing in new and astonishing depth the reality of Jesus’ promise in John 8:32,

 “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

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Gold Fears No Fire, [Comfort]

Things fall apart

“He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us.”

-2 Cor. 1:4, NCV

“The sinners in Zion are afraid;
    trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
    Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”

Isaiah 33:14, ESV

There has to be some sort of confusion here. Some discrepancy, some incongruity, something overlooked. But things are never what they seem, and that is accentuated when we are in real pain. We think that whatever trouble we get enmeshed in, can’t have any real redeeming value. Or does it?

After a period of time walking with God, whose presence is true fire, we should process this prominent thought. Suffering is part of God’s idea. He has plans that hinge on our pain. It has been deliberately placed into our lives.

A competent pharmacist will be extremely aware of the drug he is filling for a patient. Never too much, nor too little. God is even more meticulous and acutely alert when it comes to suffering and pain. He has an intense love for you through it all. He drops in the proper amount needed for that moment.  It is confined and designed to heal, grow, and strengthen. Never to harm or destroy. He is not punishing you.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Helen Keller

Keller understood. She was both deaf and blind, since infancy. From this dark and complete isolation, she broke through. Helen Keller became a potent and significant woman. She would graduate from college and became a famed public speaker of international renown.

“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” (see Romans 8:28-29).

Jerry Bridges

Gold fears no fire.

We must believe pain has purposes. Life teaches us how to love. Some seem to go through life “charmed”, they are really not hurt in any substantial way. If that is the case, reach out and help someone else, for there’s certainly enough pain and evil to go around. (We should find ourselves actively sharing in the trials of others.)

I think that when a believer finally arrives in heaven, they will be ushered in limping, wounded, leaning on an angel for support. They will bring it all to Jesus, their scars remembered, and their sins forgiven. And we will be transformed, fit for heaven.

aabryscript

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Helping Those Who Hurt Intensely, [Compassion]


Job needs God’s wisdom
By John Piper, originally published September 12, 2008  
The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

Can we learn something from Job’s friends about how to help the hurting?

Absolutely. Those first seven days were their golden hour. If they had stopped there they would have been heroes, I think, because they would have shown compassion and patience. And that’s what we should learn.

When you walk into a horrific calamity you should be really slow to speak and quick to listen. You should be quick to cry, quick to hold, and quick to meet needs, bring meals, and wait upon the Lord. The theological wrestling comes later, probably. It’s different with different people.

But I think the lesson we learn from the progress of the book of Job is that while those three friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—were sitting in dust and ashes, aching with their friend Job, he was helped by them. And many people are helped just by the loving presence of another.

I don’t think this nullifies the importance of truth. Let me give you an example.

I’m a colleague here with Tom Steller, who has been with me for 24 years. And Tom and I have sometimes said to each other, “It would be great to stay together long enough to die together, Tom.” And depending upon which one of us comes to visit the other in the hospital at our dying moment, we know, because of 24 or (perhaps by then) 54 years together, we don’t have to say a word. It’s all been said.

We have a common theology. Neither of us will have to preach to the other in order to fix their ideas. We will all know that God reigns, God is good, God is loving, and God is wise. We’re perplexed, but you don’t need to preach. Let’s just take each other’s hands and pray and fight this fight of faith together.

 

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