Theme: In Our Sorrows
Season: Ordinary
Main Text: Job 38:1-7, 34-41
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 5:1-10
RCL Scripture: Job 38:1-7, (34-41) or Isaiah 53:4-12 Psalm 91:9-16 or Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c Hebrews 5:1-10 Mark 10:35-45
Focus: God responds to Job’s questions without justifying himself.
Function: To stop justifying God’s action in our suffering, instead to sit in silence or point towards Christ.
Other Notes:

SCRIPTURE READING: Hebrews 5:1-10 Every high priest is taken from the people and put in charge of things that relate to God for their sake, in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 The high priest is able to deal gently with the ignorant and those who are misled since he himself is prone to weakness. 3 Because of his weakness, he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as for the people. 4 No one takes this honor for themselves but takes it only when they are called by God, just like Aaron. 5 In the same way Christ also didn’t promote himself to become high priest. Instead, it was the one who said to him, You are my Son. Today I have become your Father, 6 as he also says in another place, You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek. 7 During his days on earth, Christ offered prayers and requests with loud cries and tears as his sacrifices to the one who was able to save him from death. He was heard because of his godly devotion. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. 9 After he had been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for everyone who obeys him. 10 He was appointed by God to be a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.


  1. Job 1 & 2
  2. Job 23 – John Amick
  3. Job 38 ← YOU ARE HERE
  4. Job 42


Audience Engagement: how many of you have pets? do any of them have a funny habit? – favorite toy?! picky about food?

Much like their humans, pets can have first world problems. However, pet first world problems are probably even funnier than human probs. Perhaps it’s the language barrier that leads to such humor- “my human doesn’t understand me” or perhaps the humor is in the comparison with wild or stray animals.

  • photo 1- so many toys
  • photo 2 – wrong flavor of food
  • photo 3 – peeing in rain

one of my favorite quotes comparing cats and dogs goes like this: you feed a dog and they think you’re God. you feed a cat and they think they are God.

TRANSITION:  in our text for today we will hear words from God as God responds to questions from Job. However, Job doesn’t get the explanation he expected.

SET THE SCENE: Consider drawing a picture to connect to wk 1

  1. From 3-28 Job’s “friends” have been giving him explanations for why he must suffer so much.
    1. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar take turns speaking and letting Job respond for 26 chapters. Each time they try to explain Job’s suffering and each time Job defends himself.
    2. Each time the friends defend God’s character by smearing Job’s character. God is Just so CLEARLY Job has done something wrong. We’ll give you examples…
      1. After all of their words, Job then expresses his perspective (29-31) including questions to God in relation to Job’s character & behavior.
        1. Job even questions God’s goodness.
  2. THEN Job’s young “friend” Elihu speaks for 6 chapters.
    1. Before Job can respond to Elihu, God speaks up.

MAIN TEXT: Job 38:1-7, 34-41 Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind: 2 Who is this darkening counsel with words lacking knowledge? 3 Prepare yourself like a man; I will interrogate you, and you will respond to me. 4 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me if you know. 5 Who set its measurements? Surely you know. Who stretched a measuring tape on it? 6 On what were its footings sunk; who laid its cornerstone, 7 while the morning stars sang in unison and all the divine beings shouted?….34 Can you issue an order to the clouds so their abundant waters cover you? 35 Can you send lightning so that it goes and then says to you, “I’m here”? 36 Who put wisdom in remote places,    or who gave understanding to a rooster? 37 Who is wise enough to count the clouds, and who can tilt heaven’s water containers 38 so that dust becomes mud and clods of dirt adhere? 39 Can you hunt prey for the lion or fill the cravings of lion cubs? 40 They lie in their den, lie in ambush in their lair. 41 Who provides food for the raven when its young cry to God, move about without food?

EXPLANATION: God responds to Job’s questions without justifying himself.

  1. Job just asked God to explain Godself. (VERSE QUOTES- Ch 29-31)
  2. God responds to Job but does not answer Job’s questions.
  3. Instead, God responds with his own pointed questions.

INTERPRETATION: God responds to Job’s questions without justifying himself.

  1. God doesn’t justify his actions.
    1. Job never learns why the things he experienced happened. much like us today, suffering isn’t explained.
    2. We like to explain why suffering happens; it helps is to grieve and deal with the pain if we feel like we have a purpose to the madness.
      1. However, God doesn’t tell Jon “everything happens for a reason.”
      2. God doesn’t explain anything to Job.
      3. Job experienced natural disasters and consequences of other people’s actions (Chaldeans etc.) His suffering was caused by a tainted world.
  2. Job gains a perspective of God’s role compared to his own. God shows Job that God’s perspective and responsibilities are bigger than Job can comprehend. God does not move humans like chess pieces on a chessboard.
  3. though we know from the narrator’s perspective, Jobs loss was stirred up by the Adversary, job never learns this. he is humbled. he is put in his place. he’s reminded that God doesn’t *owe* us explanations.

APPLICATION: To stop justifying God’s action in our suffering, instead to sit in silence or point towards Christ.

  1. What to do with God’s answer?
    1. Recognize that suffering is not a direct action by God to teach us lessons. Do not blame God for the pain in our lives.
      1. INSTEAD: The existence of suffering is the consequence of sin in this world.
        1. sin affects nature- storms, natural disasters, etc
        2. sin affects humans in two ways:
          1. consequences for OUR actions
          2. consequences from other people’s actions
    2. Realize that God doesn’t need your help/defense of his actions
      1. When we try to defend God’s actions or the consequences we experience, we say false things about God.
      2. explaining away grief with ‘ everything has a purpose” or “God has a plan” paints God as a jerk who enjoys watching our pain OR a NOT good God who uses evil to accomplish his will.
        1. God’s plan is not for us to lose loved ones – young or old.
          1. Babies don’t die because God needed another angel in heaven.
        2. God’s plan is not to teach us lessons through suffering.
          1. BUT that doesn’t mean we can’t learn or grow in the midst of suffering. God doesn’t cause suffering for a lesson, but we still can learn. I see those lessons as a way that God redeems stories of pain.
      3. INSTEAD: Sit with people in their suffering without explaining it. Give them the gift of presence.
    3. Preach the hope of Christ’s return and the end of this suffering.
      1. At the end of the Gospel of Luke and the beginning of Acts, Jesus says he’s coming back. We turn to the Old Testament and other writings in the New Testament to know what to look forward to:
        1. Someday these painful things will be done.
        2. Someday we will not suffer.
        3. Someday we won’t be separated from our loved ones who have died.
        4. Someday our bodies won’t decay because of age or illness.
        5. Someday Jesus will restore heaven and earth to God’s created intention. Evil will be wiped out and suffering will be no more.
      2. THAT is the hope we live for. That is the thing we cling to amid suffering. The hope of Christ keeps us going.

CONCLUSION: I know it would be wonderful if I was able to give you a clear and simple answer about why suffering exists. It would be nice if we had easy causeàeffects for different pains. Sure medical professionals are trying to fine the cause and cure for cancer but there still are so many mysteries out there.

Until Christ redeems this earth, we will sit with people in their pain, we will lean on God’s wisdom, and share the hope of Jesus.


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