After three sermons focused on Job’s friends and looking at how people sometimes add to suffering by dealing in self-centered and insensitive ways with those who are suffering, we turned last week to how Job responded to his suffering. We looked at a model of grief pioneered by a famous psychologist called Elizabeth Kubler Ross. This model describes 5 stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Each of these stages can be done well or badly. When I say well, I mean in a Biblical and Godly way. And when it is dealt with well it leads to healing and spiritual growth. On the other hand each stage can be dealt with in a worldly way that leads to bad outcomes. Now Job is commended by God both in the beginning of this ordeal, that means to start with, he was someone who lived a God-fearing life. And God vindicates him at the end of the book as well, that means he dealt with the challenges he was thrown within the book well. We know this because in the 10 speeches that Job has given you see each of the first 4 stages of grief circulating throughout these speeches. Thus looking at Job’s response is an opportunity for us to learn how to grieve well. And that means doing all the stages of grief well. Last week we looked at the first two stages of grief, denial and anger. This week we are going to look at the next three stages, bargaining, depression and acceptance. So let’s get started.
Today we are going to change gears and focus on the sufferer, Job. We are going to examine how he dealt with his pain. The end goal for us is to be able to learn to grieve well, so that we can be a witness to God even in our grief. Now if you read up on counseling you will find that people go through grief in 5 distinct phases. Now every individual and every grieving event has its own unique pattern but all go through some or all of these phases in their own way. These phases or stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Don’t worry you don’t have to remember all these just yet. It is going to take me at least two sermons to go through all the stages of grief. But at the end of it I am sure you will be able to remember it all Today, I will cover the first two stages, denial and anger.
Today we are going to examine the big elements of Elihu’s speech. When you look at the beginning of Elihu’s speech, it sounds the same as the rest of his friends. He even starts on a note of humility by saying that he is the youngest of them all and so he was waiting for those with the wisdom of age to speak before he did. So far so good. Elihu’s speech also has some amazing poetry on the majesty and lofty, way above our thinking ways of God.....
Three ways we can be real friends to the “Jobs” in our life. Make sure that we don’t make their pain worse by pining the blame carelessly, especially not on the mourner themselves. Secondly, make sure to weep with those who weep so that they know that you are with them in the time of their suffering. Finally take their “why” questions to God for them. God can handle all questions and God promises that those who mourn will be comforted. If we have experienced that comfort from leaving our questions and problems at the feet of Jesus, then we will be able to pass that comfort on to those whom we are trying to comfort.
We are going to turn our attention back to the book of Job. In our first sermon on Job we looked at the opening where the scene was being set for us, with God and Satan setting up a trial for Job in heaven. We also looked at how the trial plays out here on earth and we looked at the question that the book of Job is exploring. One way of framing the question is, is God just? The other approach to the question is, if God is good, then why do good people suffer? This is where Job’s friends come in. Because Job’s three friends soon appear to console him. Now each of Job’s friends have a slightly different take on how they respond to Job’s laments. These responses represent different philosophical perspectives to the question of God’s justice and human suffering. We are going to look at how these perspectives are formed and what is helpful and unhelpful about each of these perspectives when dealing with a grieving friend. Today our focus is going to be on Eliphaz, the Temanite.
My question to us this morning is, how does the amazing facts of Resurrection Sunday and the amazing promises to us impact our life today? I want to offer three quick things and stop. First, if God can do what He did for Jesus, is there any challenge that happens here on earth too great for God to handle? Because of Easter, the answer is no. There is nothing too great for God to handle. Can I get an Amen! If you have something in your life that feels impossible or dead even and you have lost all hope, can God bring life into the dead things in your life? Because of Easter, the answer is yes my friends! When you don’t see the plan and the way ahead is pitch dark, does God have a plan? Because of Easter, you and I can say with a resounding yes, God does have a plan forward.
For today, we will look at chapters one and two of the Book of Job. In these two chapters we are introduced to an exceptional human being. He is one of the richest people in the land. But he is also tremendously righteous. He was considered blameless by God. It does not get better than that! As an illustration of his righteousness, we are told that he even regularly made sacrificial offerings even for those sins that his children may have unknowingly committed. So Job is presented to us as a man who has all the possible bases of his life covered....
In an average year, the United States of America is a buzzing beehive of activity. On average Americans drive 3.5 trillion miles a year, take more than 16 million flights, spend $330 billion on big meetings, almost a $ 1 trillion on sports, make 45.5 billion trips to restaurants and over 20 million visits just to Magic Kingdom in Disney world. That is a lot of activity, burning a lot of fuel and it costs about $22 trillion in total to make all that happen. If that does not make your head spin, I don’t know what does. But here is the deal. When there is so much happening, so much activity, so much running from this task to that, it is super hard for us to hear anything but the noise of our own activity. But there are also times in history when God wants to be heard, especially when He wants to do something big and He needs His people to listen. So He decides to shut the whole world down. Yes you heard that right. God can shut the whole world down when He wants to get our attention. Ps 65:7 says this, “You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations”. God has certainly quieted us. Here are some observations about this shutting down that God has effected.
Today, we are going to scale up from the level of the individual disciple and talk about the church as a whole. And the topic we are going to deal with is the proper relationship between the church and the state laid out in Article 23. To do that properly we are going to look first at the definition of a state. I will define state as the “governing authority of a territorial nation”. Couple things to note there. The state is a sovereign nation defined by a geographic area. So there is a ruling authority within a given territory. So a place with a ruling authority is a “state”. Let’s look for a second at the definition of “church”. Church is a “community of Jesus disciples who are called out of this world, to give their higher allegiance to the exaltation and mission of Jesus Christ”. These are my words just to get us oriented. Let’s look at how Article 23 defines “church”.
Over the last few years the Mennonite church has established a tradition of going first in the Lenten Worship series. And one of the things that happen when you are positioned in a certain place in sequence is that the Lectionary scripture for that place is usually similar. At the start of Lent we are usually talking about the start of Jesus’ earthly ministry, particularly his temptations in the wilderness. The fact that one of the very first things that Jesus had to deal with at the start of his ministry were certain temptations is something that we need to ponder in our own spiritual preparation this Lenten season.