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Pastor’s Letter, September, 2018

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What are we supposed to do when we go through tough times, and have terrible, horrible no, very bad days? ANSWER: worship is the antidote to our pain. Job is such a great example of this. He lost everything–his wealth, family, friends, and health–all in the short span of just a few days. Yet, Job 1:20-22 records, “Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. {21} And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ {22} In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Amazing! Even when his wife told him to stop holding so tightly to his integrity, and to just curse God and die, Job responded, “…’Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?'” Even though Job was tested and tried in every imaginable way, we see throughout his story how he worshipped God instead of becoming bitter or hard-hearted. There’s five things we can learn from Job’s story, to help us to worship in the midst of our pain, so that we can emerge from our trials as pure gold. First of all, in order to be able to worship as the antidote to our pain, we need to tell God exactly how we feel. Aren’t you thankful that we can be honest with the Lord, and unload our soul and pour out our hearts to Him? Job humbly and honestly expressed his pain and complaints to God. That’s called a “lament” and many Biblical characters can be heard praying to God in this manner. When we express our disappointments and frustrations to God through prayerful laments, we’re still expressing faith, because we are voicing our stubborn refusal to let go of God even when He seems absent or uncaring. Job simply would not let go of God, in spite of all the suffering, confusion, loneliness, and opposition that he was experiencing. He knew that he had nowhere else to go, but to God. Secondly, in order to be able to worship as the antidote to our pain, we need to praise God. When Job’s life was devastated, and his world was rocked, he simply said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” I don’t believe we need to thank God for our problems, but we certainly need to thank Him in the midst of our problems. Job’s story is in the Bible for one questions: will I still worship God if everything goes wrong in my life? Praising God in the midst of our pain turns the attention off of ourselves and our problems, and it turns our attention to God (where it should be). There’s a lot that we can and should praise God for, even when life is bleak. Job chose to thank Him in spite of his pain, and so should we. Third, or order to be able to worship as the antidote to our pain, we need to ask God for wisdom and strength. When we are hurting, we need wisdom to know what to do, and we need strength so we have the power to do it. We can depend on God for both, as Job did. Sometimes we don’t think straight when we’re hurting, that’s why we need the mind of God and His wisdom. Fourth, in order to be able to worship as the antidote to our pain, we need to gather with others for support. God doesn’t want us to worship or attempt to handle our pain alone. It’s important to share our pain with others and to let others into our shattered world, instead of withdrawing and isolating ourselves (in our attempt to handle it alone). We need each other! One of the great benefits of the church is that we find true friendship and familial bonds in the body of Christ. Fifth, on order to be able to worship as the antidote to our pain, we need to keep on going. It’s actually an act of worship, to patiently endure, and to “keep on keeping on.” The Book of Job has over 330 questions in it, more than any other book of the Bible. The reason for that is because when we are discussing our pain, tragedy, and suffering–it leads to many questions (and few, if any answers). The questions of Job and his friends never get answered in the story of Job. Even when God shows up in the end, instead of answering their questions, God questioned Job. This should teach us that instead of driving ourselves crazy trying to figure out what is hidden by God, we should refocus our attention to the vast amount of truth that has been revealed about Him. When the Lord answered Job (read Job 38-41) He basically told him, “How about if you shut up now and let me talk? You guys don’t know what you’ve been talking about.” God’s words put Job in his place. God was basically asking him, Do you want to be God, or will you let Me be God? Job concluded, “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” (Job 42:2) Even when we’re going through trials, we’re in a good place when we can declare: You are Almighty God, and that’s enough for me! In the end, God restored Job’s life and fortune. He was twice as blessed i8n the second half of his life (after the trials) as he was in the first half. That should encourage us to realize that there’s more chapters yet to be written in our lives, as well; so keep trusting in the Lord, and “keep on keeping on!” Pastor Keith Short