St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Out Of The Depths I Cry To You

Sermon on Job 7:1-7

Text: “Do not mortals have hard service on earth? Are not their days like those of hired laborers? 2 Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired laborer waiting to be paid, 3 so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. 4 When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn. 5 My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering.
6 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. 7 Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.”

If I were to ask you, “How are you?”, how many of you would answer “Fine” or something like that? That seems to be the most common answer to that question. Maybe, it is true for you. Maybe, everything is going just perfectly for you. If you were any better, you would have to be twins. If so, may God be praised. I am happy for you. However, we all know that everything is not always sunshine and roses. We all have troubles. There are physical things that we are dealing with. There can be financial stresses. There are family issues. Sometimes, it seems like it is one thing after another. I believe that we can all relate to that. This morning, we are going to study a portion of a prayer by a man, who was well acquainted with troubles. As we go through our difficulties, we join him in saying, “OUT OF THE DEPTHS I CRY TO YOU. 1. I Am Weak, But You Are Mighty. 2. I Am In Need, But You Are My Savior.”

Let’s take a few moments and remind ourselves about Job’s story. Job was a believer, whom God had richly blessed. The devil told God that the only reason that Job was faithful was that he was wealthy. If that were gone, Job would turn his back on God. God allowed this to happen. On one day, Job lost 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 donkeys. He went from being wealthy to destitute in the matter of one day. On top of that, all 10 of Job’s children were killed. You would think that the devil would be right and Job would turn his back on God. However, Job’s response was, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21) After this, Job was stricken with horrible sore that covered his body from head to foot. It got so bad that he would scrape his skin with broken pieces of pottery to try and find some relief. It could hardly have gotten any worse for Job than it had.

Three of Job’s friends came to see Job. They wanted to show that they were with Job and to console him. However, the old saying was true in this instance: “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”. In essence, the three friends rebuked Job. They called him an unrepentant sinner. They told him that all of his suffering would stop, if Job would repent of a sin that he was holding on to. Instead of supporting Job at his time of crisis, they only added to his misery.

Before we go any further, we need to address the things that Job’s friends were telling him. It is something that might come to our minds when we are undergoing some problem in our lives. It is so tempting to look up to the skies and ask, “What have I done to deserve this? Tell me what I have done, so that I can take care of it.” It is important for us to remember that God does not punish us for our sins. It is true that we might have to face consequences for a sin that we have committed. Our body’s health may be compromised because of something that we did to abuse it. We may have to pay a fine for breaking the law. However, God does not punish us for sins that we commit. Rather, he punished his Son in our place. That is why Jesus went to the cross. He went there to face the full force of God’s anger against our sins. Before he died, he said, “It is finished.” That means that the debt of sin has been paid in full. We know that the punishment was completed, because Jesus rose from the grave. We are reminded in Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” God does not hold grudges against us, nor does he look for ways to get back at us.

The reason we continue to have struggles during our lifetime is we are living in a world that was ruined when sin entered the world. It lost its perfection. As we are undergoing suffering, when we are sinking in the depths, it is a reminder that we live in an imperfect world.

As we go through Job’s words, most of us will be able to relate to the struggles that Job was facing. In verse 1, Job asks, “Do not mortals have hard service on earth? Are not their days like those of hired laborers?” Life can be difficult, at times. We seem to face one thing after another. In the Hebrew language, the word for “hard labor,” could also be translated as “warfare.” We are like soldiers, fighting one battle after another. There are things that we have to give up in our fight. We lose battles from time to time.

Job continues in verses 2&3, “Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired laborer waiting to be paid, so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me.” Job compares himself to a slave and a hired laborer. We can understand his picture. A slave or a hired laborer has no say in what they are doing. They are to do what they have been told. Do we, at times, feel this way? We feel that we have no say in the way that our lives are going. We are simply being led from here to there. It may seem like no matter what we do, it doesn’t matter. Everything that’s going to happen will happen, no matter what. So, we trudge through the day, fearing what will happen next. We hope that it will get better. We are like the “slave longing for the evening shadows.” We can’t wait for the day to end.

However, we are reminded of something in verse 4. Job said, “When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.” When we finally get to bed, we toss and turn all night. We can’t sleep. Perhaps, we can’t sleep because there is something that is really causing us concern. There may be some loneliness that we don’t feel during the rest of the day, because there are people that we are with. In the dark hours of the night, however, we feel lonely. There are some nights that we can’t wait until they end. At least, we can get up and do something to occupy our minds.

Job makes reference to his physical state in verse 5: “My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering.” I mentioned earlier that Job used pieces of broken pottery to scrape his skin to try and get some relief. Job may have had leprosy, a disease for which there was no cure. When we have physical problems, they weigh heavily on our hearts. It may be a disease that we have contracted. There may be some pain that we are experiencing. There is the steady march of time that causes our bodies to age. When we are experiencing these things, we may feel that we are in the very depths.

Where do you turn when you are in those depths? Where did Job turn? He couldn’t turn to his own abilities and strength. That was gone with the onset of the disease that he was dealing with. Job couldn’t turn to his resources. Everything that he had was gone. He couldn’t rely on his friends. They were of no help. As a matter of fact, they were only making things worse. Where could Job turn for help? Where can we turn for help when we are in the depths?

Job said in verse 7, “Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath.” Basically, what Job is saying is that he knows he can’t help himself. He can’t do it. He refers to his life as a breath, something that is here for a moment and gone the next. So, he turns to the one he knows can help. He calls on God. There is no better one to turn to, both for Job and for us. God is almighty. He is the one who created all things. He is the one who continues to rule over all creation. There is nothing that he cannot do. For example, we think of the many miracles that Jesus performed while he was on the earth. Jesus helped people out of seemingly impossible situations. So, also God continues to help us. It might come in the form of a miracle. There are times, for example, when someone is healed and the doctors can’t explain how it happened. There will be other times when God will help us in a way that we never dreamed of. We came to God, when we are in the depths because, though we are weak, he is mighty. We know that he can take God at his word when he promises us, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (Psalm 50:15)

We, also, note that there are other places in the book of Job, where Job refers to God with that special name, LORD. This special name of God refers to his love and mercy. Job knew that he could turn to the LORD for help, because he knew that the LORD loved him. He had confidence that God would see him in his distress and help him. We can have this same confidence. We know that God loves us. If we should ever start to wonder whether or not this is true, we simply have to look at that cross outside Jerusalem. God loved you so much that he was willing to sacrifice his Son for your salvation. He loved you so much that he took care of your greatest need. You can count that he will continue to care for you whatever may enter your life. He will not leave you on your own to handle things. We read in Isaiah 49:15, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” We, also, have God’s promise in Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Although we may not always understand why God is allowing this to come into our lives, we have the assurance that God is going to use it for our benefit. In addition, we know that, no matter how difficult life may get, we know that it can only last for so long. Eventually, this life ends and God will take us to heaven. Then, we will be free from all of life’s hurts and problems. Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” As we pray to God out of the depths, we know that, though we are in need, God is our Savior.

God gives us this comfort so that we can go through each day. He wants to help us. God, also, gives these words of comfort, so that we can encourage others. We read in 2 Corinthians 1:3&4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Do we know someone who needs encouragement? If we don’t at this moment, we will. What can you say to someone who needs encouragement? We might say, “I’m sorry.” “I hope things go better for you.” Honestly, what good do those words do? Far better, to point that person to the one who comforts and strengthens the broken hearted, the overwhelmed, the ill. If that person is an unbeliever, God may be giving you the opportunity to come to them and tell them about the only one who can truly help. We thank God that he comforts us in all of our troubles. We pray that, through us, God may comfort others, as well.

When I served in Mission, South Dakota, there was a woman whom in visited n the nursing home. On one of the occasions that I was visiting her, she wasn’t having a very good day. She was hurting. While I sat at her bedside, she turned to me and said, “Sometimes the Lord puts us flat on our back so that we remember where to look.” What profound words! If you are lying flat in your back, what is direction that you are looking? You are looking up. God may allow certain things into our lives that are difficult. However, he never does so to crush us or to punish us. He allows these things so that we are reminded that to put our hope and our trust in him. Above all, we are reminded that he continues to love us. It is easy to remember this when things are going well in our lives. It is my prayer that God reminds you of this when things aren’t going well. It is my prayer that God would put people into your life at that time with the reminder of God’s everlasting love and power. It is also my prayer that God would help us when we have the opportunity to be there for others who need encouragement. Out of the depths we cry to the Lord, because we are weak, but he is mighty and because we are in need and he is our Savior. Amen.