Overcoming Hard Times #1 Job:
Understanding Hard Times
Hard Times Are Here
The Reality of Hard Times
9/11 Attack on the World Trade Center
Active shooters in churches / Islamic terrorist against churches in Middle East and Africa
Covid 19 Pandemic / lockdowns / economic collapse
Police killings / Rioters destroying cities
Twin Hurricanes / earthquakes / floods / wildfires
If we are to overcome hard times, suffering and pain in this life then we first need to understand, why a loving, omnipotent God allows these hurtful things. Why do we suffer? Why do we encounter hard times?
The Tragedies of Job
Name means: one who turns back to God or the assailed persecuted one. He was perfect and upright, meaning he was blameless and lacking nothing in his service to God, he was a just man.
His wealth was measured in possessions, which dates the book near Abraham's time. Does not mention any other Bible book or character. The Book of Job may be our oldest book of the Bible. He was a man who loved his family, shown by the sacrifices he offered.
His tragedies 1:13-19, 2:7-9
Job 1:13-19 13 And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: 14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: 15 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. 16 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. 17 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. 18 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: 19 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.
He lost his children, his wealth, his servants, his health and finally he lost even the support of his wife and friends.
Why Do We Have Hard Times?
Why? Why is easy to understand but hard to accept.
Genesis 3:1-5 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
Sin, free will and man’s choice of disobeying God brought suffering and pain. That choice and my own choices are why there is suffering and hard times in this world and sometimes in my life, but it brings up another question.
What am I supposed to do when I’m suffering, when I’m trying to survive through the hard times. I have to have the right perspective, a Biblical perspective about hard times, suffering or pain.
"Tragedy or suffering is punishment, or there must be a reason, a plan or a purpose which I can understand." Christians might say it, "God caused it, or God allowed it.” The danger, like Job is in blaming God and getting beat down by the hurt.
Instead we need to see hard times from God’s perspective and as an opportunity to rise up stronger. My understanding of hard times determines if I blame God sink lower and give up or trust God and rise up.
Jesus Perspective on Hard Times and Suffering
In John 9 Jesus was asked by His disciples, why was a man was born blind? Was it his sin or the sin of his parents?
John 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
Jesus’ answer gave a completely different perspective. He said, The hurt, the pain, the hard times should be seen as God's opportunity to show His power and love. The exact cause for the hard times was none of their business.
Job’s friends give us these two perspectives on hard times. Let them beat me down or in God’s power use them to raise me up.
Hard Times and Hurt
Job's friends are the original, "With friends like these who needs enemies."
Eliphaz the Tishbite, Job 4:7-8
Bildad the Shuhite, Job 8:3-6
Zophor the Naamanite, Job 11:5-6
All these "friends" felt that Job was being punished for sin. Because of this their help was not helpful. Instead it brought Job even further down.
Job sinks deeper into despair
Job 7:12 Am I a sea, or a whale, that thou settest a watch over me? 13 When I say, My bed shall comfort me, my couch shall ease my complaint; 14 Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions: 15 So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life. 16 I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity.
In his despair he tries to contend with God,
Job 10:1 My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. 2 I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; shew me wherefore thou contendest with me. 3 Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked?
In his desperation he pleads for true help of a friend, Job 6:14-18
Job’s three friends and many times we as well have the wrong perspective about hard times. What then is the proper perspective? Job’s last friend, Elihuh, provides the key and God brings the answer home.
Hard Times and Hope
Elihu, holds the key.
When God does answer Job, he rebukes him and the friends, but he does not rebuke the young Elihu. What did Elihu say?
First, he said that Job had justified himself rather than God.
Job 32:2 Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.
Second, He said the friends had accused Job without knowledge.
Job 32:3 Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.
Finally, Elihu, said that Job was blaming and contending with God as though he was an equal and God was nothing more than a human bully.
Job 33:8-11 8 Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of thy words, saying, 9 I am clean without transgression, I am innocent; neither is there iniquity in me. 10 Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy, 11 He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths.
Then we come to the real lesson of Job’s hard times. It is
simply this, God is greater than man. He see what I cannot see. He is all powerful, all knowing and always present. I must trust Him rather than trying to understand Him or what He is doing when it comes to the hard times in my life.
Job 33:12 Behold, in this thou art not just: I will answer thee, that God is greater than man. How do I apply the real lesson of Job.
Applying the Job’s Lesson To My Hard Times
What scripture does not teach.
All problems, pain and tragedies are caused by God for a special reason or punishment. Actually, most of our suffering is due to our own choices and those of our fellow man.
Deuteronomy 30 15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. 17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Also Joshua 24:15, John 3:36
That I can always see God's purpose in a tragedy. God does not owe me an explanation.
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Nor does the Bible teach that all tragedies for Christians somehow have "happy endings."
What scripture does teach.
That God is with us in all circumstances. God is greater.
John 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
Because He is with us, we have hope and will overcome
1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
That God can bring good out of the worst sorrow
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Genesis 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
God can make us stronger through the suffering.
Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.,
God Uses hard times to refine us
1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
We need to understand that God sometimes allows or brings hard times so that we can become stronger but sometimes bad things happen simply because we live in bad world. Still, no matter the reason God promises He will be with us and trusting Him through the hard times is our only hope of coming out stronger.
Also we must remember, if there is unrepentent, habitual sin in my life, God will chastise me in order to bring me back to Him. Hard times may be part of that process.
The bottom line is we must learn to change our understanding, our perspective. Instead of "God, why me?" We need to ask, "God, what would you have me do?" and “God, How can I draw closer to you and stronger in my faith through these hard times?”
God is greater than man, greater than hard times and I must trust Him when I find myself in the dark times. If I love and trust Him, He has promised to bring good out of evil and refine my heart like fire purifies gold.