November 3, 2021

November 3, 2021

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
November 03, 2021

“Then Job answered the Lord and said, ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job 42:1-6

Job at this point is back to full health and strength. We don’t know how many months he has gone through, maybe even a couple of years of the intense physical suffering; he lost his children; he was hit hard financially. This is the last snapshot that we have of Job. Next to chapter one where we get a beautiful snapshot of him, this is maybe the most beautiful snapshot we have of Job.

What is obvious from Job 42 is that Job is not a bitter man. You couldn’t say that when you work through some of those other chapters. Job has an edge of sarcasm, even a sense of bitterness and anger, even towards God. But not now. Job is not a bitter man. He is a better man and he learned some important lessons. One thing you and I need to pray when we go through suffering is that we need to learn and we need to grow. One of the great reasons why God sends suffering into our lives is to produce fruit. He wants us to grow. We are disciples and disciples are learners. We are to learn from our sufferings.

What does God want us to learn? I realize everybody is different in terms of what we learn and the truths that God impresses upon us. Here are four things we can learn:

1. Suffering gives us opportunity to learn about God. You see that with Job. When you compare Job on the front end or in the middle part of the book of Job, you can sense he is struggling. He is struggling with who God is; with God’s goodness, God’s grace, God’s mercy. But when we come to the back end in Job 42, there is a great difference here. You could say Job finally gets out of the hospital and has regained his strength and his health and he is thinking differently about God. Verse 5, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. He sees God, he sees more of God, he understands God better. He doesn’t understand God perfectly, none of us do, but he understands God better, he has grown in his experiential knowledge of God. It is not just a head knowledge, it is experiential. That is one thing you should pray for when you pray for the sufferer. Don’t just pray that he be delivered from his physical suffering. Paul never prays that for himself; he suffered a lot physically; not that it’s wrong to pray that, but we should pray that we grow in the knowledge of God. Sufferings can be wonderful eye openers to the glory of God. We see more of His love, His faithfulness, His kindness. We get better glimpses of His sovereignty.

2. We need to learn more about the devil. I am not convinced that every human ache and pain can be attributed to the devil, but there are at least four to five incidents in our Bible where you see the devil’s involvement in human suffering. Job is certainly the classic example. Remember what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12, he refers to his thorn in the flesh as a messenger of Satan. That is strong language. We can say this, “If we believe the devil is the devil who hates God and hates
the Christian, the devil loves to use our suffering to turn us against God.” That is what he is doing with Job. He really wants to turn Job against God. He wants to activate our fear; he wants to have us doubt God’s goodness; question His kindness, His love, even His sovereignty. That is what is happening in the book of Job. As long as the devil is the devil, he will seek to take advantage of our suffering. That should always have us on red alert whenever we begin to suffer physically, emotionally or whatever; the devil is probably going to come after you. So we should be praying for one another, not simply that we be healed, but that we would learn. We are disciples, we learn about God, learn about the devil. Let’s not be ignorant of his devices and his stratagems.

3. We should learn about ourselves. Suffering is a great revealer, often a humbling experience. Suffering reveals two major things about ourselves. Our physical infirmity; we realize how weak we really are; and our spiritual vulnerability. Suffering exposes our weaknesses, our limitations, often our sins. It is far easier to get irritable and bitter, angry, envious, fearful and anxiety ridden when we are in the midst of suffering. The devil knows it. Here is the great warning with regard to suffering, it can be a time of spiritual regress, not a time of spiritual progress. We need to be careful when we are in the midst of suffering. We have to pray for one another that we could come out stronger Christians, not weaker because of our suffering.

4. We need to learn about Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 12 is a key passage where Paul makes reference to the devil. Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh (I am becoming more convinced the thorn was a relational thorn) and sees the devils fingerprints all over that thorn, that’s what he calls it, “a messenger of Satan.” He knows that God is using that thorn for his good. He even uses language to suggest that this is given ultimately from God. He is not saying that the devil is in control ultimately; no, God is in control. But God is using the devil to accomplish His purposes and that is to keep Paul from becoming proud. Remember, he has had a lot of privileges and he needs to be made keenly aware of his weaknesses. That’s really what God is doing here. So Paul can experience not just his weakness, but he can experience the sufficiency of Christ’s power and grace. That is the point. God wants His servant Paul to come to a deeper appreciation for Jesus Christ; His sufficiency of grace, His power in the midst of our weakness. We learn that the good shepherd will be with us. Psalm 23, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, You are with me.” We learn that His love is a never failing love, that He will never, never forsake us in the midst of our weakness and our frailty.

Every one of us suffers. Some more than others. But we will all have opportunity to put God on display. Dr. Piper says, “We were made to glorify God and suffering provides some of the greatest opportunities for us to glorify God.” Do you want to glorify God? Here is the opportunity in the midst of our suffering. Where did Jesus glorify God the most? On the cross. Often when we glorify God our Father we put Jesus on display when we are in the midst of suffering.

We need to pray for one another, that we would learn not only how to suffer well, but that we would learn some very important lessons about God, about the devil, about ourselves, and about Christ.