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Catechetical point: Tell Job's story
Message: No matter what happens, God is always with us.
The Open Grave
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Text: (Job 7:1-7) "Does not man have hard service on earth? Are not his days like those of a hired man? Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired man waiting eagerly for his wages, so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. When I lie down I think, 'How long before I get up?' The night drags on, and I toss till dawn. My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering. "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.
This is the Word of our Lord. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
A. Any Job text means we're talking about human suffering
B. Job is pretty much the epitome of human suffering
1. His children were killed
2. His home was destroyed
3. His livestock were stolen
4. And his wife turned against him
5. And about the time he thought, "At least I have my health," he was struck with horrible boils all over his skin
6. He literally went from riches to rags and lost everything and couldn't understand why
C. And while I doubt any of you have experienced loss on the scale of Job, you can all relate to loss, because you've all lost something
1. Maybe it was a family member: a parent or a child
2. Maybe it was a good friend
3. Or a marriage fell apart
4. Or you lost something of value or suffered a tremendous financial loss
5. Or your health just isn't what it used to be
D. Any one of those losses is devastating
1. And even though your loss may not be to the extent of Job's
2. It doesn't make your loss any less painful or real
II. "Is not man drafted to warfare on the earth like the days of an employee?
A. You'll hear some say that, if you're suffering, it's because you've done something to deserve it
1. That's what Job's friends tried to tell him
2. They were wrong
B. Or, "If you're suffering, you just don't have enough faith."
1. But if that were the case, only Christians would be rich
2. And those who've lost their lives as martyrs to the Christian faith are a paradox
C. The reality is, as Job says, we're going to be fighting during our days on earth
1. Onward Christian Soldiers!
2. We are all members of the "Church Militant,"
a) We are soldiers of the cross
b) We fight the enemies of God
(1) The devil
(2) The world
(3) And our own sinful flesh
c) And we're armed only with the Word of God
(1) That doesn't sound like much
(2) But for this battle, it's the only effective weapon
D. Consequently, we can look forward to a considerable amount of suffering
1. But don't despair
2. Even though we fight against the most powerful enemies in the world,
3. God has also given us the most powerful weapon in the world
4. And He sent thousands of angels to fight to defend us
5. And God Himself fights for us
6. And if God is for us, who can be against us?
III. "Like a slave who gasps for shade and like an employee who longs for his wage."
A. But sometimes, the fight is so difficult that the only hope we find is in the grave
1. When you look around and can't see past your troubles, it's easy to despair of this life
2. We find this mentality being used as the excuse for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide
3. But if all you can see is the crosses you bear, look just a little farther to the cross of Christ
4. Because in Christ's cross, there is hope to overcome any despair
5. The solution to suffering isn't death;
6. It's eternal life in Jesus Christ
B. And yet, we do look forward to our reward
1. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be with Jesus,
2. But while "to die is gain,"
3. It's also true that "to live is Christ"
a) That means that we still have fighting to do here
b) Not necessarily for ourselves
c) But for our neighbors who need to know the love of Christ
IV. "Thus I am allotted months of vanity, and nights of trouble are appointed to me.
A. But how can God expect us to endure these trials when they often go on for so long?
B. Because He has already endured them on our behalf
C. And He sends His Spirit through His Word and Sacraments to not only give us faith to endure those trials, but to strengthen our faith through the same trials
V. "If I lie down, I say, 'When will I arise and the night be gone?' But the tossing is only completed at the dawn.
A. Of course, the hardest part of suffering is the waiting
1. You know all suffering is temporary because Jesus already suffered for you and earned paradise for you
2. But while you're still in it, it's not easy
3. But you can be assured that God will work it to your good, no matter how horrible the suffering may be
B. And the dawn is coming soon
1. Jesus is coming
2. And while we don't know when—maybe today—we can be sure that He is
3. Because He promised to be with us to the close of the age
4. And on the last day, we will be with Him as well
VI. "My flesh is clothed with maggots and clods of dirt. My skin is broken and loathsome. My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle and come to an end without hope.
A. Job knew what suffering was
1. He had maggots breeding in his sores
2. His wife told him, "Curse God and die."
3. His friends told him God must be punishing him
B. Wouldn't you be tempted in the midst of such suffering to give up on God?
1. Do you ever just feel like God has abandoned you?
2. Whenever tragedy strikes, we often hear the question, "Where was God in the midst of this tragedy?"
3. But of course, that question answers itself: "Where was God?" "In the midst of this tragedy!"
4. He was there to give His comfort and peace
5. And He continues to be with those affected to bring good from bad, good where no good was
6. Because God alone is able and willing to create good where there was no good, the same way He created the universe out of nothing
VII. "Remember that my life is a breath; my eye shall see no more good.
A. But God does bring good from bad
B. We see that especially in the crucifixion
1. The Son of God was killed for our sin
2. What could be worse than God being murdered by His creation that He came to save?
3. But He willingly took on that cross—it's why He came
C. But Jesus' cross ended in resurrection
1. And though you may have various crosses to bear in this world,
2. Your cross, too, will end in resurrection
3. And on that day, you will no longer be fighting in the Church Militant
4. You will be permanently transferred to the church triumphant, free from suffering forever in Jesus' name. Amen.
Now the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
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