Midweek – 5 LSB 430:1-4, 430:7, 750:1-3, 5, 7
Text – Job 23:10b
When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
UNDERSTANDING HOW IT ALL WORKS TOGETHER
I hate to admit it. In fact, I’m not totally comfortable telling you about it, but once my mother tried to kill me. She really did! No, I’m not talking about the times when I was in high school & made, let’s just say, some less-than-stellar decisions. In those situations she only threatened to ring my neck. But when I was five years old she actually tried to kill me.
Let me explain. As a young child I often marveled over the great biscuits my mom would bake. Why, those were biscuits even Colonel Sanders would envy. One day, when she was about to mix up a new batch, our dog Spotty got loose. Here was my chance! As she searched for Spotty I would search for the secret! The 1st item I saw was a container of flour.
Since this was by far the largest item around, I put a spoonful into my mouth, “Yuck! It must be the shortening,” I reasoned. That tasted awful! The only item left was a container marked “baking powder.” This had to be the secret to the biscuits. So I put an extra-large spoonful of baking powder into my mouth. Talk about “gag me with a spoon” – literally!
Then it dawned on me. My mother was trying to kill me! Right? Wrong! My mom was taking strange & distasteful ingredients, working them together & creating biscuits of beauty. The secret is in understanding how it all works together. Don’t believe me? Then let’s look at Job.
Throughout most of his book, Job thinks that God is trying to kill him – literally. But today’s 1st reading includes these words in Job 23:10, “When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” God is after a golden character, a mature Christian faith, a life marked by depth & compassion. So God takes strange & distasteful events, works them together, & creates lives of
beauty. The secret is in understanding how it all works together. There are five ingredients.
When those things happen, it’s like jumping into a bitterly cold lake. You can prepare yourself all you want for what it’s going to feel like, but when you jump in, immediately the shock to your system takes your breath away.
After Job lost everything, chapter two says that for 7 days he just sat among the ashes with a shard of broken pottery & scraped himself. Job could not say a word. He was in shock.
If Job is a true & worthy servant of his Creator, why then is Yahweh evading & ignoring him? Why is God hiding from him? Job wonders, “Who started this game of hide & seek, & why am I ‘it’?” By the end of chapter 23, it’s clear that, if Job allows it, this darkness will swallow him whole & he will drown in the ocean of his Heavenly Father’s silence.
We can sympathize with Job about God’s silence. When I pray, I expect He will answer. Isn’t that what the Bible promises? “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you…” When something goes wrong or I need help, I do what I think I’m supposed to do – take it to the Lord in prayer. I claim my right as God’s child to voice my complaint, to make my request, to tell my side of the story, but instead of an answer or a divine sympathetic nod of understanding, I get nothing. God doesn’t hit reply to my email. There’s no call back message on my voicemail. God is silent despite my best efforts to provoke some kind of response.
Bad people prosper. Good people suffer. And the children of God struggle with their Father in heaven. Why? There are two reasons: one, we doubt His wisdom. And therefore, two, we want to be in control. Job says at the end of chapter 23; “I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.” (23:17)
Life is tough. You can let it beat you down & you can get down & stay down the rest of your life. But if you keep struggling, keep holding on like Job, stay resilient, you learn from your losses, you profit from your pain, & you advance from your adversity. Don’t give up the struggle! Refuse to let the darkness silence your prayers!
Every problem & frustration has a purpose. We are transformed by our troubles. Other people might mean it for bad, but God will use it for good. Anybody can bring good out of good. Our Messiah specializes in bringing good out of bad. God loves to turn crucifixions into resurrections: “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.” (Job 42:12) This is the gospel news that turns crucifixions into resurrections! What looked like a dead end on Good Friday, as Christ died for your sins & mine, opened up to an everlasting day on Easter morning. “I know that my Redeemer lives!”
Our nightmares are not random events serving no purpose. Rather, they are results from the wounds suffered in a cosmic war between good & evil. The Holy Spirit is weaving those wounds into a beautiful tapestry & plan for ultimate victory. That’s what St. Paul teaches in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”
That verse is one of the most misunderstood, misinterpreted & misused in the Bible. Notice what Paul does not say. He doesn’t say, “All things are good” because not all things are. They haunt, they confuse & they mess with our mind. Second Paul doesn’t say, “We’re pretty sure that...” or “Wouldn’t it be nice if...” No! Paul is convinced – “We know.”
We know that the God of Job, the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, takes our strange & distasteful experiences, works them together, & creates a life of beauty.
Who better can help parents of a Down syndrome child than parents who’ve had a Down syndrome child? Who could better help somebody struggling with an addiction than someone who struggled with an addiction? The very thing you least want to talk about is the very thing God wants to use most to help other people. There is a plan, a divine plan, a plan where all things are being worked out for our good & the Father’s glory. The secret is in understanding how it all works together. As Job explains for us, “When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (23:10) Amen.
If thou but trust in God to guide thee & hope in Him through all thy ways, He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee, & bear thee through the evil days. Who trusts in God’s unchanging love builds on the rock that naught can move. Sing, pray & keep His ways unswerving, perform thy duties faithfully, & trust His Word; though undeserving, thou yet shalt find it true for thee. God never yet forsook in need the soul that trusted Him indeed. Amen. LSB 750:1, 7.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet