GOD, THE FAITHFUL ONE

 

August 22, 2005 ~ Winbourne Park Long Term Care Centre (cancelled due to Enteric outbreak)

September 4, 2005 ~ Bay Ridges Long Term Care Centre

 

Job 2:1-7 - On another day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2  And the LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." 3  Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." 4  "Skin for skin!" Satan replied. "A man will give all he has for his own life. 5  But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face." 6  The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life."  7   So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job.

 

Most of us are familiar with the story of Job as the man who was assaulted by Satan in an effort to shatter his faith. We remember Job’s three friends who, thinking Job was getting what he deserved, mistakenly told him to repent from his hidden sins. We remember Job’s complaint that he had done nothing to deserve what was happening to him and his constant cry to God for justice. And we remember at the end that Job received twice what he had lost.

 

But many of us are not aware, or we do not remember that in the midst of his troubles Job spoke the words below:

 

Job 19:23-27 - Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, 24  that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! 25  I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. 26  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27  I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

 

Job’s proclamation of his faith in God has never ceased to amaze me, coming as it did when he was enduring difficulties worse than most of us will ever face. Here is a man who has lost his sons and daughters. He has lost his all of his wealth. His friends are giving him useless advice. His wife is telling him to curse God and die. He is sitting on a heap of ashes and using a broken piece of pottery to scratch the sores that cover his body. He sees no end to his suffering and in this situation he can still say “I know that my Redeemer lives!”

 

We can all understand the story of Job, at least to some degree. We may not have suffered to the extent that Job did but each of us has experience hardship in one form or another. Some of us here today are facing problems that seem to be overwhelming and that no-one else is aware of. For many people undergoing trials the story of Job offers a certain amount of comfort.

 

It has been said, by way of ridicule, that faith in God is a crutch. What is meant is that faith in God is only good for those who are not able to stand on their own two feet. What is not understood is that no person ever lived who had feet strong enough to stand on their own. Ridicule aside faith is a crutch for those who are weak. Just as a crutch is necessary for someone with a broken leg so is faith necessary for someone with a corrupt soul. In this sense Job was no better than the rest of us. His soul was corrupt just as ours are. He needed a crutch that would let him stand before God and that crutch was his Redeemer. But just as a crutch does not automatically heal the leg that needs is so does faith not automatically heal the problems it helps us through. There is no knowing how long Job suffered but the narrative seems to imply some considerable period of time. During this time his faith was firm but his problems remained. His faith in God did not protect him (nor was it intended to, save as a protection of his soul from the result of his sin) nor did it automatically make the problems disappear once they arrived. Job was a man of faith, he suffered and his faith sustained him.

 

I opened this message by reading what I see to be some of the most comforting words in the Bible: “I know that my Redeemer lives. And….in my flesh I shall see God.” The impact of this statement to me is that Job felt he could withstand any assault as long as God was there. Job does not appear to be hoping for restoration so much as saying that even if his trials would lead to death his hope is in the resurrection of his body: “In my flesh I shall see God….How my heart yearns within me!” This was a hope that transcended death, not a hope for security during life but a hope for security during death. Although Job had problems greater than those we are normally called to bear he had faith in a God who is greater than his problems.

 

Job was not alone in his belief that God would care for him even during death. The Bible is filled with stories of people who considered the normal fears of this world nothing in comparison to the power of God. The Bible is filled with examples of men and women whose faith in God meant that they could face difficulty or death without fear:

 

-          David facing Goliath

-          Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego facing and angry king and a fiery furnace

-          The apostle Paul facing the choice to live and teach or to die and be with God

 

Many examples from history and from among our own family and friends show that such faith did not merely occur in the Bible but that it occurred in “real” life. As the writer of the letter to the Hebrews said, we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who testify to the power of God to sustain them and keep their souls secure.

 

In her wonderful song “Redeemer,” based on the book of Job, Nicole C. Mullen sets the root of Job’s and our own hope in the power and eternity of God:

 

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?

and Who told the ocean you can only come this far?

and Who showed the moon where to hide 'til evening?

Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

Well I know my Redeemer lives

 

I know my Redeemer lives

All of creation testifies

This life within me cries

I know my Redeemer lives yeah


The very same God that spins things in orbit

runs to the weary, the worn and the weak

And the same gentle hands that hold me when I'm broken

They conquered death to bring me victory


Now I know my Redeemer lives

I know my Redeemer lives

Let all creation testify

Let this life within me cry

I know my Redeemer, He lives


To take away my shame

And He lives forever, I'll proclaim

That the payment for my sin

Was the precious life He gave

But now He's alive and

There's an empty grave


Now I know my Redeemer lives

I know my Redeemer lives

Let all creation testify

Let this life within me cry

I know my Redeemer,


I know my Redeemer

I know my Redeemer lives

I know my redeemer lives

I know that I know that I know that I know that I know my redeemer lives

Because He lives I can face tomorrow

I Know I know

He lives he lives yeah i spoke with him this morning

He lives he lives, the tomb is empty,

He lives I gotta tell everybody

 

We can trust God because He is there. He always has been and He always will be. He was there before anything else. He will remain after everything else is destroyed. He is here now. He is eternal and the source of all life. He is the only eternal foundation.

 

We live upon a wonderful world, a world that continues to surprise us even though we have been looking at it for thousands of years. It is a magnificent place and filled with incredible beauty yet the Bible shows us that there will come a time when this incredible world will be no more. Everything we see around us will cease to exist. From the distant galaxies to the bugs on the flowers in our gardens it will all be destroyed. If you are alive at that time, and it is quite possible that you could be, upon what will you hope when the world dissolves around you? Where will you stand when all around you things are falling apart? More practically, when it comes time for you to put your faith to its ultimate test what will you trust to see you through to the other side of death. More immediately, where will you go when the problems get too big for you to handle?

 

If you are the result of random chance, the interchange of time and energy, you have no place to go, no one to turn to, no one to run to for help. There is nothing that would shed a tear for your passing or rejoice with your survival. There would be nothing to care whether you lived or died. (The very fact that tear are shed at funerals seems by this argument to prove creation true and evolution false.) You would have no purpose.

 

But you are not the result of random chance, you are a creation of the hand of God, the creator of the universe. You have a purpose. There is a reason why you are alive today. You have a place to go. You can turn to God, you can run to God for help. God will shed a tear at your passing and rejoice at your survival. God cares whether you live or die. God has already done what was necessary so that you could live and not die. He is wanting you to realize He loves you more than you can imagine. He wants you to to be restored to Him and He has done all that could be done to make you His child.

 

Do you want to know that there is a God and that He cares for you? Look around you. Take a good look. Look at the trees. Look at the birds flying between them. Examine creation closely. Look at the stars. Look at yourself. Do you really, honestly believe that all of this came to be by chance? Are you absolutely sure that you do not see the hand of God in the world around you? Are you willing to bet your life that you are a freak of nature and that everything you see is one great big accident? You may say that you have too many problems for you to believe in God, that if God really cared you would not suffer as you do but you’re just looking in the wrong direction. You are looking for excuses instead of reasons. You are looking at the problems instead of the gifts. Job, who had problems greater than those most of us will ever face, was a troubled man. Yet he could say “I know that my Redeemer lives!” and look forward to the day he would meet God face-to-face. He saw the gift that the love of God truly is and knew that it was far more important than any problem he could face.

 

What are you facing that is bigger than you? Are you willing to place it in the hands of He who is bigger than all?

 

Do you have a long-standing prayer concern? If you have received a definitive no from God, pray to accept it and trust that He knows what He’s doing. If you haven’t, don’t grow weary or mechanical….continue to walk faithfully with God even though you are disappointed. Walking with God in the day-in/day-out course of life swells your assurance that God is faithful and enjoyable even when a request goes unmet. Recognizing all the other works God is doing in your life will prevent discouragement as you await your answer.

 

Beth Moore – “Jesus, the One and Only”

 

Recognizing that in Jesus Christ God has given us far more than the would could ever take away, that we have a Redeemer and that He is alive, is cause for greater joy than all our troubles can overwhelm. In the joyful words of Habakuk:

 

Habakuk 3:17-19 - Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18  yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19  The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

 

Look for God, take a good long look, you will find Him for He is faithful.