A bruised heart: when life is unfair. Divorce. Depression. Rebellious children. Terminal illness. Out of work. Out of money. Soured friendships. Spiritual dryness. Death of the people we love. The trials of life come to us all. This is the story of Job. This is your story. The story of Job is not how to avoid a bruised heart, it’s how to make it through, blessing out of brokenness, celebration out of calamity, triumph out of trajedy.
This series from Job is about a bruised heart, when life is unfair, the reality of evil; What this series is NOT about is personal sin, we talked about that in Romans and will revisit the nature of sin and forgiveness in the future, but this is about evil that is thrust upon us for no fault of our own.
Four lessons, choose one, whatever God places on your heart …
Lesson #1: A principle from a counseling class. Everyone’s pain is the worst. How often we feel bad for feeling bad because we know somebody else has something worse. God cares about your pains. We are not competing for who has the worst life. If you are hurting and struggling, then you are hurting and struggling. It was so interesting to hear my father talk about the few weeks he knew he had leukemia and before he told the church and he would ask for prayer requests – a dying man being asked to pray for problems much less severe by human standards, yet real and sincere and right – everyone’s pain is the worst. If you are hurt, don’t try to dig in your heals and ignore it because somebody else has bigger problems. We serve a big God that loves us unconditionally. He knows our frustrations. You are important! Your crack in the wall is as important to God as the guy down the street whose house has blown away. I’m not talking about feeling sorry for yourself because you wish you had a bigger tv…, I’m talking about bruised hearts that create pain. Everybody’s pain is the worst. Job is not a perfect man, he is a man that did not deserve the tragedy that stuck him – the loss of family, property, everything he worked for taken away.
I chose the phrase, bruised hearts, because its easy to hide, yet the pain is real. Like the guy that won’t even tell his wife he has a pain, so that she won’t force him to go to the doctor. In our society we are taught to suppress our hurts and pains and act big and tough like nothing bothers us. Everyone’s pain is the worst.
Before we go to the other lessons, look at today’s scripture. Job is a man of unparalleled piety and well-deserved prosperity. The story starts out, “in the land of Uz…” (Job 1:1)…not Israel. Universal character of Job. Job 1:1-5 is a sparkling resume of a good man: Job is a praying man, trusting man, priestly man, faithful man, family man and godly man. You can find each of those in the first five verses. One of the myths of faith is that if you are obedient to God then your life will look like your own utopia version of Job 1:1-5. That night Job goes to sleep. Life is good. Settled.
Behind the scenes, God and Satan are locked in a spiritual battle. Job becomes a pawn in the struggle. In a quick and brutal sweep of catastrophes, allowed by God, but engineered by Satan, Job is broken. He is left penniless, homeless, helpless, childless—and later in chapter two even his health is removed. In Job 1:6-12 Satan enters the presence of God and questions Job’s integrity and motives for loving and serving God. A bargain is struck between God and Satan to test the real motives of Job’s heart. Job is the pawn in a heavenly, behind the scenes struggle.
Job’s heart is bruised. Lesson #1: Everone’s pain is the worst….Job is not given us to beat us down as an example of a man that went through something worse than you…Job shows us the depth of God’s love and grace. The greater truth is that as Job overcomes his bruised heart through God’s love and grace, so can you.
Lesson #2. I’ve said it many times (I’ve spoken all the lessons already): Life Is Not Fair. There are trials and pains we do not deserve. The opening verses emphatically emphasize Job is innocent. Life is unfair. We look for explanations to explain why and there is no logical answer. God allows it, Satan is given limited power on this earth. Life is not fair. We are all born with distinct personalities in distinct situations. The playing field is seldom level. When I was a young teenager I used to work in the concession stand at the ballpark. I was a horrible softball player. Once in a while a team was short handed by a player and I was the only person available. They’d put me in right field and I would pray the ball would come nowhere near me. I remember once standing up to bat against a giant of a man on the pitcher’s mound. He had one pitch, and it was straight and it was fast. If I had any chance at all of hitting it, I was so slow with my swing I needed to start swinging while the pitcher’s arm was halfway through the rotation. The only mercy I had was that he was so quick I was up and down nobody had time to notice. Boom, boom, boom, I was out, thank God. Life is unfair. I don’t know why some people get cancer, I don’t know why some people lose their jobs, especially those that do everything right. Life is unfair. The sooner you accept that truth, the sooner the healing process will begin.
Lesson #3 God is greater than Satan. Nothing is more obvious in these first two chapters. Satan must ask permission from God. I believe in the literal truth of these verses, Satan is real but God is greater. We Face An Unseen, God-Hating Enemy Who Would Love To Destroy Us. But God is greater. Rev. 12:10: At the end of time, Satan will be defeated. Satan may confuse you, annoy you, sidetrack you and even bruise your heart, but God is greater. Amen?
God never promised us a stress free life with no pain. His promise is to be with us through the ups and downs… many versions of Christianity such as the name it and claim it gospel are just wrong if they teach that we can achieve any sort of blissful happiness and monetary wealth. The goal is not a fairy tale ending, the goal is to learn to look to God in trust and hope, to be able to proclaim in the middle of undeserved pain and sorrow that great confident pronouncement of Job: “I know that my redeemer lives” (Job 19:25). The world may look on you with bewilderment and perhaps a bit out of touch when you stand firm with a bruised heart and say, “He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Job is portrayed as a man who did everything right, not a perfect man, but he made good decisions, he was faithful, yet through the terrible trial of life, he grew in his faith.
“Refiners fire, my hearts one desire, is to be holy.” We cannot seriously want to be refined through suffering, we are not wired to want bad things to happen, but when it happens, when our heart is bruised, to find strength, through faith and emerge with more strength from the Lord is an amazing gift. This is Job. When your heart is bruised. When life is unfair. Through the hurt and pain to emerge with an even greater appreciation for life and a joy in the Lord that is supernatural. God is greater than Satan – a powerful truth you must never forget. Paul could easily have written these words for Job: Ephesians 6:10-12. God has more power, more strength, than Satan, and he fills us with a supernatural power, HIS power to stand firm against Satan.
Lesson #4 I love this truth: God Provides Us A Hedge Of Protection. Like a rope to a mountain climber, stay roped together… I knew a woman that grieved for decades over the untimely death of a child, from my human perspective, it compromised her life. God wants better than that…There is a hedge of protection. 1 Cor. 10:13 says it this way: No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
God’s hedge of protection is real, but it may be different and more stretching than our ideal. Take a look at Job 1 and 2 and notice that in the conversation God has with Satan, the question Satan asks over and over is to try and enlarge the hedge of protection as to how much pain Satan is allowed to inflict on Job – God never gives Job over completely to Satan. He always protects, always puts limits. Job is always loved by God, precious jewel, precious jewel, his loved and his own. God will never let Satan harm you eternally, he will not take away his integrity. Job still had a strength. Satan removed a lot from Job, but he never lost his faith, never lost his integrity, because he never lost sight of God, perhaps later in the book his sight of God is but a spark, there may be a waning, but it is there, he sees God’s love, he knows God is faithful, even when he doesn’t understand, even when he is grieving. God’s hedge of protection is his love, God believes in Job – that’s the hedge surrounding Job and keeping his head above water. Job 1:20-21.
Many of us are now experiencing something we don’t deserve. We didn’t ask for it, anticipate it, or think a bruised heart would come. Everyone’s pain is the worst. Life is Unfair, God is greater than Satan, God provides a hedge of protection. We will talk a whole lot more about Job’s Story/our story a bruised heart, in the next couple of months. In spite of a bruised heart, or maybe because of it, may the Lord lead you to a place of greater faith, and greater strength in the Lord. You will be amazed.