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Job 23:8-17

 A little five-year-old girl was watching her mother in fascination as she was rubbing a cream on her face. She said, ''Mother, why do you do that?''  The mother replied, ''To make myself beautiful.'' 
Well, to the little girl's amazement, in just a minute the mother began removing the cream which she had just put on. The girl said, ''What's the matter, giving up already?''

Consider these facts:

  • During its first year, Coca-Cola only sold 400 bottles of coke.

  • NBA basketballer Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He said, “I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over again in my life. But I never gave up.  And that is why I am a winner..”

  • Dr Seuss was rejected by 23 publishers before the 24th took on his books

  • Babe Ruth held the record for the most strike outs.  He went on to also hold the record for the most home runs.

Why are some people losers and others are winners? One of the reasons is a person’s view of himself or herself such as: “I don’t have enough education,” “I’m just not the one for this,” “I might fail if I attempt this,” “I just can’t risk it,” “I have had a bitter experience with in the past,” “I’m not sure I have the adequate support system.”

It is true that life is hard and there are times when we are tempted to quit and give it all up. We look around us and can see people who are “modern day Job’s.” There may even come a time when we will compare ourselves to the Old Testament character named “Job.” Who was he?

Indications are that Job lived during the time of the patriarchs which would be about 2100 BC. He likely would have been a contemporary of Abraham. He was a man whose wealth was measured in livestock. He had a large family. Because he lived before Moses, the Mosaic law is not mentioned. His three daughters shared equally with the seven sons in the inheritance given to his children which would not have been possible later on. Job was not a priest, but he offered sacrifices to God which would not have been possible under the Mosaic law. He was given a long lifespan after he was tested and proven by God.

As you know, God allowed Satan to test the faith of Job in every respect. He lost his wealth and his children all through tragic events. He was described as a man who was blameless and upright who feared God and shunned evil. Now in this state of loss how would he relate to God? What would he do with his life at this point?

The book of Job is a long poem to seek to answer the question of evil and suffering in our world. There was a belief in Job’s day that if you are suffering, you have done something that displeases God, and he is out to get you. The big idea in Job is that suffering comes to all people because of the evil in the world and not because God is out to get us. Satan had told God, “Let me touch everything that Job has, and he will curse you to your face.” That was disproved by Job’s deep faith in God which held strong through all of his suffering. He endured the questioning and comments of the friends who came to help him. They believed that he had sinned a great sin and they wanted to find out what it was so he would confess it and get free of the suffering. It is amazing that this same idea is prevalent today. Some people think that they are suffering because God is out to get them for something they have done even though they are devout Christians. But even the most spiritual and devout person will ponder the question, “Where is God when I need Him?”

THE SEARCH FOR ANSWERS (23:8-9) “Behold, I go forward but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; when He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him; He turns on the right, I cannot see Him.”

Job wanted to know, “God, where are you?”

You know that feeling, don’t you? There are times when it seems that God is far removed from us. We may go through weeks or even months when it does not appear that God is near us. In the Old Testament, God would speak clearly to His servants, and then there would be an interval of years before he would speak again. Abraham had to wait as much as 20 years for a word from the Lord. In between the Old and New Testaments there was a space of about 450 years when there was no word from the Lord.

Often it is in these times when God is silent that people give up on serving God. They quit going to church and even people who have been loyal members quit supporting the church with their prayers, witness, goodwill, and giving. They cease reading their Bibles and even give up on prayer. God is silent in their lives and they become silent to Him.

But Job did not forsake God. He held fast to a belief that God understood everything that he was going through and that at an appointed time, He would reveal himself again. Job said, “But I am not silenced by the darkness, nor deep gloom which covers me.”

Job’s response was, “God has been good to me in the past, and although He seems far away from me now, I will not give up on my faith. I will not blame God for what has happened to me. I will not give up on life. I will not quit.”

Marilyn von Savant said, “Being defeated is often temporary, giving up makes it permanent.”

Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

King Solomon said, “For an upright man, after falling seven times, will get up again.” (Proverbs 24:16)

“George Mallory was the famed mountain climber who may have been the first person ever to reach the top of Mount Everest. In the early 1920’s he led a number of attempts to scale the mountain, eventually being killed in the third attempt in 1924. Before that last and fatal attempt he had said “I can’t see myself coming down defeated.”

Mallory was an extraordinary climber, and nothing would force him to give up. His body was found in 1999, well preserved by the snow and ice, 27,000 feet up the mountain, just 2000 feet from the peak. Give up he did not. His body was found face down on a rocky slope, head toward the summit. His arms were extended high over his head. His toes were pointed into the mountain; his fingers dug into the loose rock, refusing to let go even as he drew his last breath. A short length of cotton rope – broken – was looped around his waist.

When those who had set up camp for Mallory further down the mountain returned to England, a banquet was held for them. A huge picture of Mt Everest stood behind the banquet table. It is said that the leader of the group stood to be applauded, and with tears streaming down his face, turned and looked at the picture. “I speak to you, Mt Everest, in the name of all brave men living and those yet unborn” he said. “Mt Everest, you defeated us once; you defeated us twice; you defeated us three times. But Mt Everest, we shall someday defeat you, because you can’t get any bigger but we can.”

In 1953 two climbers, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzig Norgay, reached the top. (Source: Information reported in Seattle Times (Jan 16, 2000) and Illustrations Unlimited)

THE ANSWER FOR CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANS (Romans 5:1-5). “Therefore having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ... Because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

If Job had known what we know, he would have been able to face his suffering knowing that God was with him. When we as believers ask, “Where is God when I need him,” the answer is, “He is with us and in us through His Holy Spirit!”

There are times when you will be beat down in your soul. Satan can touch you in your mind and in your emotions and in your body – just like he touched and tormented Job. But he cannot touch you in your spirit for there you are shielded by the Holy Spirit of God.

The presence of the Holy Spirit is an invisible presence with us, but we know that He is with us.

His presence is ETERNAL, but the realization of it is temporal. That means that we realize it by our daily experiences. Paul said that even though the outward man parishes, the inward man is renewed day by day.

His presence is UNIVERSAL, but with us it is personal. He indwells the church all over the world, but the glorious thing that we celebrate at Pentecost is that he indwells us as individuals who know Christ.

His presence is UNCONDITIONAL, but with us it is conditional on our appropriation of His power. The Holy Spirit is within you as a believer, but you of your own will must give Him the freedom to occupy and control every area of your life.

His presence is MANIFESTED in the world, but in us it is experienced. One of the most blessed things of the Christian life is to have the Holy Spirit touch our spirit with all of the spiritual riches that are ours in Christ.

Perhaps you are asking yourself, “Just what does the Holy Spirit do in the life of the believer?” There are several things but I will only list a few to show us that God is with us in what ever we are experiencing at the moment:

  • He makes Christ perceptible to the eyes of the soul. That is, it is His main responsibility to reveal Christ to the believer. Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18).

  • He teaches us divine truth. Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26).

  • The Holy Spirit makes Christ perceptible to people to whom you bear witness. We are never alone in our sharing of the gospel to our family and friends. The Holy Spirit is present in your witness to minister to them. Jesus said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).

  • The Holy Spirit gives you assurance that you are saved by grace through faith. “The Holy Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:17-18).

  • The Holy Spirit helps us to control our minds. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:6-7).

So, in answer to the question, “Where is God when I need Him most?”

The answer is: He is WITH me as I struggle with my problem; He is IN me to give me the power to face it; He is OVER me to see every facet of my struggle and to facilitate my victory.


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