Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | February 1, 2016

When we consider the sufferings of others, let us not be smug and aloof, but rather let us help them.

Today’s devotion comes from Job chapter 4.  Here is a link to this chapter – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+4&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“Remember now, who ever perished being innocent?
Or where were the upright destroyed?
“According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity
And those who sow trouble harvest it.
“By the breath of God they perish,
And by the blast of His anger they come to an end.
10 “The roaring of the lion and the voice of the fierce lion,
And the teeth of the young lions are broken.
11 “The lion perishes for lack of prey,
And the whelps of the lioness are scattered.

17 ‘Can mankind be just before God?
Can a man be pure before his Maker?
18 ‘He puts no trust even in His servants;
And against His angels He charges error.
19 ‘How much more those who dwell in houses of clay,
Whose foundation is in the dust,
Who are crushed before the moth!
20 ‘Between morning and evening they are broken in pieces;
Unobserved, they perish forever.
21 ‘Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them?
They die, yet without wisdom.’”  Job Chapter 4.  Verses 7-11 and 17-21.

—————–

We may be tempted to rush to quickly, easily, and neatly explain someone’s suffering.  We may pretend to care, but we really want to show off our own wisdom and our own righteousness.  We may start with flattery of the person suffering and refer to a noble vision, but in the end, rather than relieve suffering, we add to it by our insensitive remarks.

In this chapter, Eliphaz infers that Job is suffering because he was guilty of some sin.  And, to be sure Job is guilty of some sin to justify his explanation, Eliphaz expands the reach of sin to all mankind.

How often we see even today some observer of suffering give this type of explanation that those who suffer do so because of some great sin!

Jesus saw it in his day.  “Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.  And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate?  I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.  Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”  Luke 13:1-5.

Rather than smugly and aloofly point at those who suffer like some proud Pharisee, we should be like the humble tax collector who repents. 

The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself:  ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people:  swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week;  I pay tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!  I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other;  for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Luke 18:11-14.

We can repent like the tax collector, and we can also help people that suffer in various ways.

We can be a Good Smaritan.

Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.  And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them;  and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him;  and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’  Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”  And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”  Luke 10:30-37.

We can also follow Jesus’ example and be an advocate of those who suffer.  “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;  and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins;  and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2.

We can encourage those who suffer.

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
Say to those with anxious heart,
“Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you.”  Isaiah 35:3-4.

We can also otherwise comfort those who suffer.

We can pray for those who suffer.  “…   The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”  James 5:16.

We can also follow Moses’ example and intercede for those who suffer.  “The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.  So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you;  intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.”  And Moses interceded for the people.”  Numbers 21:6-7.  

We can also remind them what God has done for them:  “you shall not be afraid of them;  you shall well remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt:  the great trials which your eyes saw and the signs and the wonders and the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out.  So shall the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid.”  Deuteronomhy 7:18-19.

For example, if we were Eliphaz, then rather than inferring that Job is suffering because he was guilty of some sin, we could encourage Job.  We could remind Job what he did.  “When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them (his sons), rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all;  for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.”  Job 1:5.  

We could also pray to God and intercede for Job reminding God what He said about Job.  “The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job?  For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”  Job 1:8.

Other doctrine leaves it to each individual to use his own alleged free-will.

But, Reformed Doctrine reminds each individual what God has done for them from “Unconditional Election” to “Limited Atonement” to “Irresistible Grace” to “Preservation of the Saints”, the Five Points of “TULIP”, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation. 

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