I awoke today with a few thoughts roiling around in my brain:
I don’t feel well.
I feel like a 13-year-old girl for all the drama in my life right now.
When you want to ask WHY?, it’s time to worship.
Huh? Those may seem unrelated, but they make perfect sense to me. The drama is wonking with my head, my heart, my immune system…and maybe I’ve got a cold coming on as a result. And Thought #3 comes to me now and again, when life seems hell-bent on doing its worst.
It was the main point from maybe the best sermon I have ever heard, given by Bill Oudemolen (pastor of Foothills Bible Church) at one of Mount Hermon’s Summer Family Camps. He was preaching on the biblical book of Job, the Bible’s longest (and potentially most confusing) answer to the problem of suffering.
Job is a good, God-honoring guy. The enemy approaches God and says, “Well, of course he worships you. Look how you’ve blessed him! Give him to me for a while and see if he still acknowledges you.” To which God says, “Okay.”
So the enemy took Job’s oxen and donkeys. He took Job’s sheep. He took Job’s camels. He took all of Job’s children in one terrible blast. Still Job says, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
The enemy attacked Job’s health, at which point Job’s wife has had it. She tells him to “Curse God and die!” Humble Job replies, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
Job has three well-meaning friends who accuse him of having done something wrong. Surely God wouldn’t allow this if Job was as upright as he seems. Job must be hiding some dark and dirty sins in his closet. They give long, tiresome sermons that sound right at times, but aren’t. Job is righteous; God does allow suffering, for no reason humans can divine; Job still praises God.
Finally Job breaks (just a little) and shouts his pain at God. He asks, “WHY?” The Lord answers, but not as Job expected (does God ever answer as we expect?).
God asks His own questions: Who is questioning me? Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Who keeps the sea in its boundaries? Have you commanded dawn to appear? Can you direct the stars? Can you make the clouds rain? Is it your wisdom that makes a hawk soar? Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?
Job repents for having questioned God; God rebukes and restores the “friends” who spoke wrongly about Him; and God blesses Job with far more than the enemy stripped away. All’s well that ends well…
[The book of Job makes me grateful for the Psalms–God does not smite the Psalmist for questioning God’s wisdom when life gets hard. For all the times I’ve yelled at God, at least I’ve yelled at God…]
Back to Oudemolen’s sermon:
Job asks, Why?
God says, I’m in control. I made the world, and I’m holding it all together. You have no idea how truly BIG I am. It’s time to worship.
We want answers, results, satisfaction. We didn’t ask for this lot, God, we asked for that one. This one hurts. This one’s messy. We want an exchange. Aren’t you in the customer service business? Can’t you make this right?
He can. Maybe He will. Then again, maybe He won’t. Maybe there’s something in this one we need to learn. Maybe He’s trying to teach us something. Maybe He’s trying to shape us. This work out hurts…
At the very least—which is pretty huge at best—we need to learn to worship. God is good. All the time. All the time God is good. Even when life hurts.
When we want to ask WHY?, it’s time to worship.
Come & See
Week 2 – Psalm 34:1-10 & Romans 12:1-2
What is your favorite food?
Read Psalm 34:1-10 & Romans 12:1-2.
Notice all the verbs the psalmist uses to express glorifying God (extol, praise, rejoice…). What nuances do you hear in those words? How would you explain their cumulative impact?
In Psalm 34:4-10, what actions does the psalmist attribute to God, and why are those significant in this context?
In Romans 12:1-2, what does Paul require of body and mind? Why are both necessary in glorifying God?
What are some of your favorite ways to glorify God?
How does one “taste” the Lord to see that He is good?
How would you explain Psalm 34 to someone who says that plenty of Jesus’ followers experience troubles in life and lack “good things”?
What do these passages communicate about what it means to be Jesus’ disciple?
Who would you like to invite to worship at your church, and what might it take to get them there?
What is Jesus saying to you through this study, and how will you respond?
Spend time glorifying God for the things He has done! Then pray that He will give you opportunities to bring others to come and see Jesus.