Suffering like Job

28 Aug 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-

 

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“I just want you to suspend your unbelief now. Have you heard about the sermon of Job?” said Pr Moi Lee, guest speaker of the Taman Midah Lutheran Church in Cheras on 25th of August.

Who is Job? Job is a story of a blameless and righteous man who went through an undeserved suffering. And like Job who lost his children, servants, and cattle all in one day, some of us may also be experiencing a continuous loss.

“What did we do wrong God? Why haven’t you listened to my prayers? If you have listened, then why are these negative things still happening to me?” our inner self groaned.

 

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Pr Moi Lee

 

Perhaps, the answer lies in the book of Job. Known as a book of suffering, Job answers a more pertinent question, “Is the Lord still worthy to be worshipped despite all the sufferings?

First of all, we must be clear that Job’s suffering is not a consequence of his own sins. In Job 1:8, God recognized Job as a man who is ‘blameless’, ‘upright’, ‘fears God’ and ‘shuns evil.’

“Wow! That’s God’s description of Job. I don’t know what God’s description is on me. I am still in the process of transformation to become more like Jesus,” said Moi.

But Satan was skeptical of Job’s loyalty towards God (Job 1:9) because God was blessing Job with prosperity- servants, cattle, and ten children. The number ten symbolizes perfection, and like the life of Job, it was complete.

 

Taman Midah Lutheran Church congregation
Taman Midah Lutheran Church congregation

 

“However, Job did not hear this conversation between Satan and God. He did not understand. How can God give this horrible permission for Satan to torture Job?” said Moi.

Although messenger after messenger ran to deliver bad news to Job, Job responded to his afflictions by worshiping the Lord (Job 1:20-22). What an unlikely response!

 

Job 1:20-22

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:“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 all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

 

And while Job thought his afflictions had ceased, the devil afflicted him with more pain; he had painful sores from head to toe (Job 2:7-8), his wife asked him to curse God and die (Job 2:9) and his friends accused him for sinning against God. He received no compassion from people and no comfort from God.

 

Job being accused by his friends
Job being accused by his friends

 

“Friends, remember that Job is not punished for his sins. Job suffers precisely because he loves God,” said Moi, citing a famous poet who asked God why she was suffering from pain and accusations. A voice said, “Because you are my friend” to which she replied, “No wonder you have such few friends!”

“All of our sins and grieves are bare before Jesus. Do you have this relationship with God, pouring out to him?” asked Moi who loves to journal, akin to writing love letters to God.

“I like to pour out to God through writing. It’s very therapeutic for me. When I write, I can also hear God and I will write down what He said. We can talk to God like what Job did later in the chapter,” she added.

 

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Pr Moi Lee

 

Job continued to seek God although God was silent. He was faithful and tenacious in his belief that the God he knew is just. He was open and honest about his hurts. He continued to trust that the Lord would answer him and he continued to seek God’s face.

“Whatever that is lost, if you truly hold on to the word that ‘God would make everything good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28),’ He would redeem you,” said Moi.

And the Lord answered Job out of His Love. It was Job who said in Job 19:5, “I know my redeemer lives.” Job found God in his quest.

 

Pr Moi Lee
Pr Moi Lee

 

“Sometimes, we are like that. I have seen Christians running here and there for help but not going to God Himself who is worthy of trust and allegiance. Jesus is Lord, let him be Lord,” said Moi.

She shared a story of a preacher who accidentally slipped down from the hill while he was doing his devotional walk. But fortunately for him, he managed to grab hold of a branch and shouted for help. God’s voice suddenly boomed from above, promising to help him if he agreed to do what God said. He quickly agreed and God said, “Let go of the branch.” The preacher looked up and shouted again, “Help! Is anyone else there?” Like the preacher, sometimes we are just too afraid to let go and let God.

 

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“Where is your faith level? Do you doubt his goodness? The book of Job is about whether God is still worthy of my trust and faith. It is a crisis of faith and all of us go through that, so that God can deepen our roots,” said Moi.

A teacher of spiritual formation and discipline, Moi did not need to teach one thing; it was suffering because the divine would teach it.

“All of us don’t like suffering and would not choose suffering given a choice. But God is gracious and He knows each one of us; He will not tempt us beyond our strength,” said Moi.

 

Everyone lifting their hands in prayer
Everyone lifting their hands in prayer

 

How did Job cope with his life of suffering? He was definitely not in denial but he was fully aware of the affliction and the emotional stress he was experiencing. In fact, Job lamented and cursed the day of his birth.

“Job was real with God. You think that God would fall from his throne shocked at what we say? But God knows our heart. Some people say, ‘the past is the past, there’s no point dealing with it.’ But is that true?” said Moi.

We have to deal with our negative feelings because we bury our feelings alive. As a young Christian, Moi recalled herself burying and ‘cementing’ her anger inside because she thought it was unspiritual to be angry. But one day, her anger made her into a bad-tempered person.

 

The benediction at the end of the service
The benediction at the end of the service

 

“If I don’t acknowledge my injury or hurt, it will fester and grown. Denial is not acknowledging your hurts. We tell ourselves to forgive because it’s the Christian thing to do. But sometimes we forgive in our mind but we don’t forgive in our hearts,” said Moi.

The Lord sees and knows your pain and hurt. Acknowledge your pain and hurt before God, and ask God “why.” Sit in His presence.

“We must learn to be present to his Presence!” exclaimed Moi.

 

Be present to his Presence
Be present to his Presence

 

Citing an example of her late father who lost his wedding ring, the whole family prayed for the ring to be found. After two weeks of prayer, his father heard a small voice in the stillness of the night, telling him to find the ring in his pocket.

“Why does God like to talk to us at night? It’s because during that time, we become still and quiet before Him, and we can hear His voice.”

“Nothing will comfort us so much as we hear a word from God. And that’s what happen to Job,” said Moi.

 

Pr Moi Lee (middle) with Pr James Hoh (right) and his wife, Angeline (left)
Pr Moi Lee (middle) with Pr James Hoh (right) and his wife, Angeline (left)

 

Lamenting is different from complaining. Complaining is an expression resulting from not trusting God. Lament gives a word to the pain and misery we experienced. Furthermore, ‘Lamentations’ in the Bible shows us that we are allowed to lament. And in lamenting, one remains true in the covenantal relationship with God.

For example, Moi witnessed a sister-in-Christ lamenting to God why He had failed her in keeping her husband from dying. She was baring her hurts and disappointment before the Lord. Was she backsliding? No. In fact, lamenting allowed her to renew that covenantal relationship. Currently, she has migrated to Australia with her two children and is serving as a deacon in a church there.

“Friends, we must trust God in our suffering that He has a purpose and a plan. He is a redeemer.”

 

my-redeemer-lives

 

“Suffering is in the Will of God. Satan has to seek permission from God to inflict Job, but that suffering is within God’s boundaries,” said Moi.

Not all sufferings are a retribution for sins. Job’s suffering is a picture of innocent suffering. And the truth is that no one is exempted from suffering and losses. But the question is what do we do with our wounds? Amidst all suffering, continue to trust God and pursue Him. Continue to talk to God and let Him heal you. He loves you.

 

For more information on Taman Midah Lutheran Church, please refer to http://tmlc.org.my/Index.aspx

 

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References for pictures:

http://bronzemagonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/my-redeemer-lives.jpg

http://distantshoresmedia.org/images/rg/18/display/18_Jb_15_01_RG.jpg

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_QVtPk6brgO4/S9SEif1qPpI/AAAAAAAAAfo/h8jIfdjSU54/s400/garret-walker-saving-grace.jpg

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2 Comments

  1. it is easy to spiritualise the events that developed in Job's life, a sort of disney happy ever after ending. however, Job's suffering did not give him the option of turning to the next chapter or see the end from the begining.

    do you suppose the loss of children and propertyand the subsequent replacement erased his memory of the loss? wasit all dissolved because of the double fold "blessings" he received. the perspective of suffering may take a different course if the crucifixion of Jesus is viewed from the Lord's viewpoint.

    Job's faithfulness and trust in the trustworthyness of God is what shines forth. here is a man who loved and served God, and who did the right things for the right reasons. in our postmodern generation, this may not make sense be coherent. suffering is often seen as God's rejection and abandonment.

    problems are like washing machines. they twist us, spin us, and knock us around… but in the end we come out cleaner, brighter and better than before. once again, suffering has its purposes in the life of believers.

    as the Lord himself said in his own words, the servant is not greater than the master. in the kingdom cause, suffering seems to be phenomenon that refines and equip one for the highest good to oneself and to others.

    • Hello Pr Xavier,

      Thank you for your insightful sharing! Yes, suffering is inevitable in building character. That’s why it is said in James 1:2-4 that trials of many kinds are important to prduce perseverance, which in the long run produces a faith that is mature, complete, and not lacking in anything.

      Blessings,

      Adeline

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