The Fellowship of Suffering: When you lose it all

“And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said,

Naked came I out of my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return thither:
The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.”[1]

                Have you ever had a day when everything that could possibly go wrong did? We’ve all had days like that. Have you ever had a day of which you will never forget when a sudden tragedy struck your family? Countless numbers of people have experienced such days. Have you ever had a day when you lost it all, including your health, like Job did? It is very unlikely that any of us has ever or will ever experience such a heavy loss like Job did.

                One of the inevitable truths of life is that there will be suffering. We live in a world that is cursed by sin. The curse that sin brings is decay, suffering, pain, loss, and death. There is no escaping this curse for those apart from Christ. Even those who have put their faith in Jesus will not escape this curse until our glorification when God calls us home. Suffering is the most consistent reality of life.

                Life is full of different seasons. We have seasons of great success and joy, and we have seasons of tremendous heartache and pain. Unfortunately, for many of us, the bad times often outweigh the good times. The issue is not trying to understand why we suffer. Rather, we must learn how to navigate through the inevitable sufferings of life. What do you do when you lose it all? What are the things we should remember in seasons of great suffering?

                Be reminded of the sovereignty of God. Previously, we looked at the source of suffering, which is our sin nature and ultimately, Satan. We discovered that Satan cannot touch those who are in right fellowship with God. Essentially, Satan can do us no harm unless we ourselves allow him to by giving him the opportunity or unless God grants special permission. In the case of Job, he was one that was in right fellowship with God and Satan could not penetrate in his life. Yet, in an accusation that challenged the very power and glory of God, Satan is granted special permission to inflict Job with immeasurable amount of suffering. Warren Wiersbe writes, “The Almighty” is one of the key names for God in Job; it is used thirty-one times. From the outset, the writer reminds us that, no matter what happens in this world and in our lives, God is on the throne and has everything under control.”[2] Even though we don’t understand why God would allow us to suffer, who are we to question His sovereignty? God is God and there is none else. He is the Creator; therefore, He can do with His creation whatever He may please. I am afraid that we are quick to forget who God is. We often try to define God and we try to mold our concept of God to fit the way we want it to fit. We will make decisions and say things as if we control God, as if we can tell God what to do. Who do we think we are? Who are we to tell God what to do? Who are we to demand things of the Almighty? Who are we to question His actions? He is God, not you. He is Lord, not you. He is the King, not you. He is the Creator, you are just the creation. God is sovereign and there is nothing that will ever change that.

                Be reminded of God’s grace. If you are suffering right now, I know you will not like to hear what I am about to say. However, in times of suffering it is something we need to be reminded of. No matter what you are going through in this moment of your life, you are still blessed, and you have more than you deserve and the suffering you are enduring is far less than what you deserve. You are a sinner. Though your suffering may not be a direct result of a specific sin in your life, you are still a sinner. You do not deserve to have a relationship with God. You do not deserve to have eternal life. You do not deserve to one day be free from the curse of sin and live forever in a perfect paradise where you will never suffer again. Yet, this is what God has given you through His son, Jesus. God has made a way for you to be forgiven and to be free from the curse of sin. Do you deserve that? No. Did you earn that? No. Your salvation was given to you solely by God’s amazing grace. Be thankful that you are not suffering even more than you are. Be thankful that God has given you a way of salvation. Be thankful God has given you hope. Be thankful that God has given you life. Be thankful that God has given you so much more than you deserve. Be thankful for His grace.

                Be reminded of God’s purposes. In His sovereignty, God has a purpose and a specific plan for your life tailored to fit within His purpose. We do not really understand why God gave permission for Satan to inflict such pain on Job. “But the fundamental reason for Job’s suffering was to silence the blasphemous accusations of Satan and prove that a man would honor God even though he had lost everything. It was a battle “in the heavenlies” (Eph. 6:12), but Job did not know it. Job’s life was a battlefield where the forces of God and Satan were engaged in a spiritual struggle to decide the question, “Is Jehovah God worthy of man’s worship?”[3] We don’t know why God allows us to suffer. However, we do know that God knows what He is doing. There is a purpose. There is a plan. God’s purpose for our lives is that we glorify Him through bringing others to Him. We are called to be His ambassadors to this world. Sometimes, as ambassadors, we are given very difficult assignments. Sometimes we are sent to difficult places. We do not know the specifics of why God does what He does, but we do know that every where God leads us is an opportunity to fulfill our purpose of giving Him glory through bringing others to Him. A soldier obeys the commands of his commanding officers. A soldier is often sent to dangerous places where he could be inflicted with tremendous pain. A soldier’s training involves purposeful pain being inflicted upon him in order to prepare him for battle. Perhaps your suffering is God preparing you for a future battle. Perhaps your suffering is God putting you in a place to reach someone for Jesus. Let me ask you this: How much is one soul worth to you? We often pray, “Lord, do whatever it takes for my friend or loved on to turn to you.” Do we really mean that? Could it be that our suffering and our response to the suffering is the very thing that will get a hold of someone’s heart? Could it be that God allows us to suffer sickness because there is someone in the doctor’s office or hospital that needs Jesus? Could it be that God allows us to suffer an injury because there is someone that will be drawn to Christ due to our testimony? Could it be that God will allow us to suffer persecution because there is someone who will see our suffering and as a result be drawn to Christ? Could it be, as in the case of Job, there was an attack against God’s throne and as a result we must suffer in order that God’s glory would not be compromised? In the midst of our suffering it is hard to understand why. However, God has a purpose. God has a plan. Are you willing to accept the suffering with joy, knowing that God may very well be using your suffering to bring others to Him or to defend His throne? Suffering is a part of being a soldier in God’s army. We have been called to duty. Our duty may very well be that we suffer. We don’t know the details. We may not even ever know the end result. Yet, it is our job to simply obey orders, no questions asked.                 In all that Job went through, He did not sin. He kept His eyes fixed upon the Lord. He did not waver, and he did not question God’s sovereignty. He did not have all the answers. He did not understand what God was doing. But, He accepted it however God led. He was a solider, following his orders and maintained the integrity of the chain of command. He never lost respect for God. He worshipped God in the midst of His suffering. When we lose it all. When we suffer. We must be reminded of God’s sovereignty, His grace, and His purpose.

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Job 1:13–2:13). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Patient (pp. 15–16). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Patient (pp. 16–17). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

2 thoughts on “The Fellowship of Suffering: When you lose it all

  1. From Ron Webster. Great read. I am using Matthew Henry,s comments during my Bible studies. I was given the 5 volumn set from a friend. You are a blessing.

  2. Amen Pastor. So very well explained. Job had to suffer for the Glory of God. A powerful verse for my life is Job 13:15.. Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Thank you. And Amen.

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