Hope Starts Here

Hope When Crushed By Trials

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Our theme this year is Hope Starts Here because if there is any year where we need some hope and encouragement, it is this year after the year we had in 2020. We have been looking to the scriptures on how to have hope in a variety of circumstances that we face in life. In today’s lesson we are going to consider how to have hope when crushed by trials. Trials are probably one of the most important times in life when we need hope and spiritual courage. The scriptures even tell us that this is the case.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 NIV)

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. (Hebrews 10:35–36 ESV)

There are many scriptures that teach us that life is going to be hard, we are going to experience trials, and we need to have endurance to excel through such difficulties. While there are a number of places to turn to when needing hope when crushed by trials, I find the messages in the book of Job to be very helpful during these circumstances. Open your copies of God’s word to the book of Job and we are going to consider some of the important messages contained in it.

There is no way to be fair to the book of Job in one lesson. It has 42 chapters and none of it is filler. Every chapter is important as it builds on the message about how God runs the world. The first chapter of Job reveals a man named Job who is rich and he is righteous. He fears God and turns away from evil (1:1). But then he loses everything. In a series of catastrophic events, we see Job losing his wealth and possessions (1:13-17) and a house collapsing on his 10 children, killing them all (1:18-19).

What To Do In Trials

So as we look at Job, let us consider his responses as these staggering trials comes to him. First, we see Job worship (1:20). This might be the most important response of all the things we will consider in this lesson. You need more of God when trials hit, not less. So often it is our temptation to distance ourselves from God when things get hard. We have the tendency to stop worshiping the Lord. We attend worship less because we are hurting and have a hard time being around people. We pray less because we do not know what to say or we may even be upset with God because of what we are going through. We spend less time in God’s word because we are busy with our difficulties. When in trials we start listening more to our flesh which is the wrong response. We need more of God, not less. We need to draw near to God all the more with constant prayer, constant time in God’s word, and more time engaging in corporate worship. We have seen this idea in the study of the Psalms where the psalmists will write about needing to worship God more because of the troubles they are experiencing. We see the psalmists praying even more than they were before when they are experiencing trials. Job does the same thing. At the news of all of this tragedy, Job worships. I said this when Covid came to our country: we need more of God, not less. This is the time when we need more worship, not less. Disaster, calamity, and trials must push us to seek more of the Lord and not cause us to pull away from him.

Second, look at what Job says in verse 21.

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD. (Job 1:21 CSB)

This is what Job was saying in his worship of the Lord. Look at what Job does to endure his trial. He looks at the start point and end point of life. I started with nothing and I end with nothing. I am not taking anything with me when I die and when I was born I started with nothing. What is the point of looking at life in this way? He is observing that everything he has and loses is God giving and taking away. Everything in life is a blessing given to us by God. I started with nothing and I end with nothing. Therefore everything in the middle is God blessing our lives. Job is able to praise God because he has this perspective of life. He makes a similar statement to his wife when Job’s health is taken away from him.

Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? (Job 2:10 NIV)

The point Job is making is that nothing we have or enjoy is deserved nor required to be given to us. Let me make this point in another way. What does God owe you? This is what Job is expressing. What does God owe me? Does he owe me good health? No. Does he owe me a good marriage? No. Does he owe me children? Does he owe to me that I will live long enough and my children will live long enough that I see all the milestones of their lives? No. Does God owe me wealth? No. Name one thing that God owes you in this life? Who says that I am supposed to live as long as I want to live, be happily married as long as I want, have as many children as I want, with as much wealth as I want, while I live life as I want? God did not promise you life, liberty, nor the pursuit of happiness. He did not give that to you.

Therefore, living 46 years is 46 years of life more than I deserve. None of those years were owed to me. Having relatively good health during that time was also not owed to me. Being married for almost 24 years is 24 more years than I deserve. Having children for 19, 17, and 15 years are more years than I deserve to enjoy. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? Naked I came into the world, and naked I will leave. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. This is a critical perspective for trials and for life itself so that we will always be thankful and content.

Third, we need to be jarred from our comfort zones. One of the messages of the book is that we need trials. There are many New Testament passages that say the same thing (James 1:3-4; 1 Peter 1:6-9). But Elihu gives Job the same instruction.

Indeed, God does all these things, twice, three times, in his dealings with a person, to turn back his life from the place of corruption, that he may be enlightened with the light of life. (Job 33:29–30 NET)

God uses suffering to direct our steps so that we are not destroyed. God, through his words and his actions, keeps us from the worst possible fate. Without suffering we would fall into the pit. God uses suffering so that it will teach us. I believe C.S. Lewis said it well: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (The Problem of Pain). Suffering is purposeful. Please think about how many times suffering has caused people to turn their eyes back to the Lord when they were on the brink of spiritual destruction. So we need to be jarred from our comfort zones. God teaches through trials. There is no better teacher than the Lord (Job 36:22). God is not going to give us answers for why we are going through what we are going through or why something happened. God expects us to trust him as the master Teacher.

Why Endure Through Trials?

But I think it is important to ask at this point, “Why should we do this?” Why is it so important that we immediately worship when we are in trials? Why is it important that we see what we start with and what we finish with so that we understand that everything is a blessing of God? Why is important to accept the good and the trouble from God? The reason is because we are told something very important at the beginning of the book of Job about what is going on in our trials. Turn back to Job 1:8-11. We see God declaring the righteousness of Job to Satan. But look at what Satan says in verse 9. “Does Job fear God for nothing?” The point Satan makes is that the only reason Job serves the Lord is because the Lord had blessed him so richly. Take away his possessions and he will curse you. Take away his family and he will reject you. Take away his health and he will leave you. Job only serves you because of all the good things you have given him. But he will not serve you if you take it all way.

This is the question in every trial that you will go through. You are being asked if you only serve God because of all the blessings he gives or if you serve God even if you get no earthly benefit. God is saying that he can richly bless us and that we will serve him no matter what happens. Satan says that we are too selfish and the only reason we serve him is for the good he does toward us now. Do you see why it is so important to worship when calamity strikes? We are saying that we love God and serve him no matter what! Do you see why it is important to see that nothing in life is deserved? This way if we will serve the Lord no matter what we lose. Do you see why it is important that we look at our suffering as God teaching us and not standing against us? We are embracing our suffering and learning from God, showing Satan to be completely wrong about our motivation.

In every trial you are being asked why you serve the Lord. Every day the trial continues you are being asked why you serve the Lord. Now think about how important this is. What kind of relationship do you have if your children only talk to you when they want something? What kind of relationship do you have with your friend if your friend only talks to you when they want you to do something for them? We would quickly see that these people are using us. They do not have a relationship with us. They are just using us. Do you have a relationship with God or are you just using him? This is what a trial is revealing in you every day. Are you with God no matter what or are you using God?

Hope When Crushed By Trials

So here is hope for you. God will get you through the trial if you are with him no matter what and are not using him. God will help you and show you compassion and mercy if you will remain steadfast. The scriptures promise this to us.

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:11 ESV)

God is using your trials with a purpose. Remain steadfast and look of the compassion and mercy of God. The apostle Peter said, “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials” (2 Peter 2:9 ESV). The context of this promise is important. If God does not spare angels for their sinning, and he did not spare the ancient world but saved Noah, and he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins but rescued Lot, then the Lord knows how to rescue you. God will get you through this. Turn to him in worship. See that nothing is deserved and everything is a blessing, know that God is teaching you to keep you from corruption, and look for the compassion of the Lord as you go through each day.

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. (Hebrews 10:35–36 ESV)

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