Feb. 17, 2016 – Lent Text: Job 1:13-22
Dear Friends in Christ,
You all know about Murphy’s Law, right? Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Murphy’s First Corollary is: Nothing is as easy as it looks. Murphy’s Law of Mechanical Repair is: After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch. Murphy’s Law of Highway Construction is: The most heavily travelled roads spend the most time under repair. Murphy’s Law of Insurance Rates and taxes is: Whatever goes up, stays up. The Book of Job is our theme for these Lenten services and Job’s Extension of Murphy’s Law is: Nothing is ever so bad that it can’t get worse.
One moment is calm, the next moment everything is in chaos. Job loses his wealth to marauding bandits. Gone are oxen needed for farming, donkeys and camels for transport, his sheep and workers are massacred. Job’s financial empire is in ruins. What has been up goes down.
Shell-shocked and dumbfounded, Job sees the sky getting darker by the minute. He starts praying, thinking things can’t get any worse. But they do. Personal tragedy strikes. A storm has taken the lives of all ten of his dear children.
Like Job, we have three choices when something catastrophic happens. We can let it destroy us. We can let it define us. Or we can let it develop us. I want to share how to let even the worst things in life develop us and grow us by the act of surrender. Tonight, the Lord leads us to . . .
That’s what Job did. “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’”
The temptation in our grief is to turn away from God or run from Him. Because in some way we think God is responsible. If He allowed it to happen, we are mad and angry and heartbroken. So we run. The emotions are okay but they don’t help us in the long-term. Long-term we need to be in worship again. Job found a way. “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Surrender through worship.
Usually when you tell someone bad news they will react with “No! No! It can’t be. I don’t believe it.” Our minds want to reject bad news. So we think, “This isn’t really happening.”
El Shaddai, “the Almighty”, reminds us that God is in control and we aren’t. That is where surrender comes in. Surrender is accepting reality. We accept what cannot be changed. We surrender not as a victim or with a grudge, but with acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean we don’t still care or that it still doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean we think that what happened was good. None of that is acceptance. Acceptance simply means that we can’t change it.
Maybe a relationship is over. You keep hoping they will call or come back. It’s over. Some of you have dreams that haven’t happened. It’s over. Maybe you need a new vision or goal for your life. Surrender with acceptance.
When we experience a devastating loss it can feel like the end. We think nothing good can come from it. We lose all hope.
There is another name in the book of Job for God – Eloah. Eloah is related to the verb “go up.” God takes people who are down and raises them up. He takes people from the pit and places them on level ground. Eloah takes what is dead and brings it back to life. So what you are going through is not the end of the story.
One of the ways we try to resolve evil is to become dualists. We believe all good is from God and all evil from Satan. Although Satan is involved in our world, he is not a second god; a dark force equal to the light force. He is defeated by Eloah who, on Easter Sunday, brought beauty from ashes; brought life from death; and brought resurrection after crucifixion.
Therefore we can surrender to our present circumstances in hope that this is not the end. Sadness, sorrow, and sickness will never, ever, be the last word. Ever!
On February 6, 1870, George Mueller of Bristol, England suffered the death of his wife Mary to rheumatic fever. They had been married for thirty-nine years. The Lord gave him the strength to preach at her memorial service. Mueller said, “I miss her in numberless ways, and shall miss her yet more and more. But as a child of God, and as a servant of the Lord Jesus, I bow to the will of my heavenly Father. I pray, ‘Thy will be done.’ And so I kiss continually the hand that has afflicted me.”
Another word for that would be surrender. And how do I do that? By surrendering to things I can’t control through the comfort and peace of the Savior Jesus Christ who died so I might live. He lives and because of that we can let go with sweet surrender. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Amen.