As with some sermons, I have preached this one of several occasions. I usually get a decent response from this one. Read it and you will see where the inspiration came from. This sermon was first preached on November 17, 1996.
When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said: "May the day of my birth perish, and the night it was said, `A boy is born!' That day-- may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine upon it. May darkness and deep shadow claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm its light. That night-- may thick darkness seize it; may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months. May that night be barren; may no shout of joy be heard in it. May those who curse days curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan. May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn, for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me to hide trouble from my eyes. "Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb? Why were there knees to receive me and breasts that I might be nursed? For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest with kings and counselors of the earth, who built for themselves places now lying in ruins, with rulers who had gold, who filled their houses with silver.
Let us meditate on the topic:
A young man was walking home from school one day. As he was walking home and a car drove by him. Not too far from this young man was a group of other young men, standing on the corner, doing whatever it is that they were doing. Shots rang out. The intended targets, the young men on the corner, all escaped unharmed. The other young man, the one that was trying to get home, however, was killed.
When his mother received the news of her son's death, amidst her crying and tears she cried out, "Why him? Why me? Why my son?"
Several years ago a young man committed suicide in his home. He left no note, left no reason why, he just killed himself. His parents and brothers and sisters and friends all asked in their grief, "Why him? Why not someone else?"
Last year, a teenage boy was leaving his home on the way to school and saw a elderly woman getting mugged. He came to the aid of the woman and in turn wound up getting killed. His parents asked themselves, "Why him?"
My grandmother is 85 years old and has been in ill health for the last couple of years. In June she had very serious surgery. A couple of months ago we were sitting down talking, something that we don't do enough of, and she began talking to me about her health.
As she talked about how her health had declined, she started telling me about a preacher that she saw on TV, I forget his name. She was so moved by this preacher that he caused her to re-evaluate how she viewed her condition. She told me about how she was not perfect, that she had not done everything like she should have, how she still struggles with bad and evil thoughts, and how she gets depressed about her condition from time to time.
Then she told me, and this is a direct quote "I realized then, listening to the minister, why not me? What makes me so special that bad things shouldn't happen to me?" Then she went on, "Maybe this is something you should preach on one day."
Now as a minister, people are always giving me suggestions for sermons. They are always saying, "you should preach on this or you should preach on that." My mother is famous for that. But this was the first time my grandmother had every done that to me. And the look in her eyes told me that this was something that meant something. Now I know she is not here and cannot hear this sermon, but I am preaching this in part because of her. Because the Lord speaks to us in strange ways. He speaks to us at strange times. And this time I truly felt that the Lord was speaking to me through my grandmother.
But the issue my grandmother brought up is why shouldn't bad things happen to us? We all know that we are not promised tomorrow. We aren't even promised this afternoon. But yet, we go along expecting the best, but fearing the worst.
In the set of scriptures I read, Job is lamenting his condition. His family is gone. His wealth is gone. His land, property, and health have all been taken from him. This was something he neither planned for nor expected. Job was a faithful man. He was a family man, a business man. He had a good name and reputation in his community. And above all, he was a man who truly, truly believed in the Lord.
Which is why he and his friends were stunned by his sudden loss of fortune. They could not figure out why a man like Job would all of the sudden lose everything. They knew somehow the Lord had to be involved.
When Job's friends came to him, they tried to console him, but I fear they did more harm than good. In their attempts to make sense of everything, they resulted in attempting him to question his faith in his God.
But what did Job want? A nice family. Children who loved him. A community that respected him. And a nice home. After all, isn't that what we all want?
In life, we makes decisions and do thing all in an effort to make home more comfortable. We sacrifice and cry and do those things that would enable us to lead more comfortable lives, like Job did.
But when everything was taken away from Job, he began questioning himself and the decisions not only he had made, but others around him as well. He cursed the day he was born, wondering why did any of this have to happen to him. He wondered by was he born into sin, why God allowed him to live instead of being killed at birth. He wondered why he was nurtured and allowed to prosper, when it would all be taken away from him in such a despicable manner.
But the question that Job really should have asked is why not him? Or maybe we should ask ourselves, why not us? When I was in a car accident last year, I asked myself why did it have to happen to me? And a few months later when I was car jacked, again I asked myself why did it have to happen to me? And many people, upon experiencing a tragedy ask themselves why did it have to happen to them.
As I have said, why not? What has God promised us on this earth? He never told us we would not experience sorrow. He never told us we would not experience pain. In order to truly appreciate the goodness and grace of God, we have to have something to measure it by. And often that measurement comes by experiencing something that is not always pleasant. But often, it is only through suffering and toils and troubles that we make it to the point where we can succeed and make it to where we want to be. I am reminded of the saying, "That which does not kill me, only makes me stronger." And it is true.
Because there comes a time, if we are truly a part of God's kingdom where we must stop asking ourselves "Why Me?" and start asking ourselves "Why Not Me?" God does everything for a reason. There is a grand plan that we are not aware of. Sometimes, asking "Why Me" is like questioning the actions of God. Asking ourselves "Why Me?" is at time saying that we don't deserve anything bad to happen to us. It's like saying we have lived such a pristine life that only good things should happen to us. It is akin to Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar telling Job, "you didn't do anything. God doesn't know what He is doing."
But God does know what he is doing. When Jesus uttered those words on the cross, "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?" it was not, as some have interpreted a cry of doubt. Jesus knew that God was with Him, he knew that God would never and had never left his side. It was a statement of emotionalism, from the less divine side of Jesus that caused him to utter that statement.
I will be honest. If something was to happen to me or to a member of my family, I may be one of the first ones to ask, "Why Me?" I have done it before, and will probably do it again. But the important thing is to never loose sight of who loves us, who gave his life for us, who took on the sins of the world so that we might have a better, more abundant life. We must not lose sight of that person who gave so much of himself and only asks for so little. We must remember that while we were not promised much, we are promised salvation, worth more than all the gold, all the money, all the cars that we think will make us happy. And we are also promised a home. A home in that place where there will be no more suffering, no more pain, no more strife.
So when the question of "Why Me?" comes up, ask yourself "Why Not Me?" Ask yourself why shouldn't bad things happen to good people? If Jesus can be killed on the cross trying to save mankind, why can't you experience a few bumps and bruises? If Isaiah or John the Baptist can be killed for spreading the Good News about the savior, why shouldn't we have to experience some not so good times? If Jesus promised us salvation by believing in him as the savior of mankind, then why should we not have to go through those things that may make us appreciate the goodness and greatness of God the Father and the Son Jesus a little more.
Is it too much to ask to totally put your faith in Jesus? Is it too much to ask to start preparing for your heavenly home here on earth? Is it too much to ask to believe that there are things that must happen in order for you to progress and become a stronger person in the Lord. Are we all so perfect that all we deserve is the best? Are any of us without sin? Are any of us perfect? Are we so secure in ourselves that we can ask ourselves "Why Me?" and not give thought to the people in Rwanda and in Zaire, or those people who fought and died trying to make it better for blacks in this country, or those people who have given their time, energy and sometimes their lives to a cause that is inspired by God? Can we really look at our own situation and think that we are so good and so noble that we cannot stop to consider those who have no home to go to, no church to belong to, no clothes on their backs, no food on their tables, no money to get to work, or, worse yet, think they have no reason to believe in God. No, when we ask "Why me?", we must look at the larger picture, and not just the ones we have drawn for ourselves.
But there is another side to this. There is another point of this whole discussion. Going back to the story of Job, remember what happens. After Job confronts God, and Job gets some, but not all of the answers to his questions, Job's health is restored, he gets a new wife, seven sons and three new daughters. God blessed the gifts to him by his brothers and sisters and friends. His property flourished like never before. And he lives an additional 140 years, living to see his great-great grandchildren. Yes, Job went through the worst of times, but when he came out of it, but keeping his faith in God, by resisting the taunts of his friends to curse God, God took everything Job had and multiplied it and made it better than before. But above everything else, God restored Job's home, making it grander than ever before.
Job never thought he would have a home again. He never thought he would have a wife and children who loved him. He never thought everything would be restored. But through it all, he still had faith. He had faith in God. He had faith that God was a righteous God, a good God, a kind God, a benevolent God, a God of mercy, a God of grace. A God who takes care of his own.
See the other part of this is if God did it for someone else, why won't he do it for me. The song says, "There is no secret what God can do. What He's done for others, He can do for you."
If God has brought you this far, then why can't He bring you all the way. If God has taken care of you this long , why can't He keep taking care of you? If God helped the neighbor down the street get a job, why won't he help you? If someone is telling you that you can't do something, but God is speaking to you and telling you that you can, why wouldn't God help you? If you help the man across town buy a new car, why can't he help you? If God can take a man who the doctors said only had 3 weeks to live and restore his health so that he lived much longer than anyone else, then why can't he restore your health.
And to make it more personal. I wasn't always a preacher. I was not always saved. I was not always walking with God. And I still do things I shouldn't do. But I know that God is with me. And if God can take me from the person I was to the person I am now, why can't he do it to you? Why, if God can take the junkie on the corner and save him, Why can't God save you? Why, if God took the person who lived his whole life without a belief in him, and touch his heart, and gave him a brand new life, why can't you have a brand new life? Why can't God bring you home? Why wouldn't God make a place for you in Heaven? Why, if God made this building for you to worship in and feel safe, and hear His words, why can't he make a place for you here on earth to prepare yourself for him?
God is with us today, my brothers and sisters. He is right here. And He is waiting for you. He is waiting for you to come home. He is waiting for you to believe in his Son. He is waiting for you to realize that there is nothing that He can't do for you. He wants you to know that there is nothing that he cannot do for you. He wants you to know that the little things he has done for others, he can do the biggest of things for you. If he touched the heart of the person in the seat next to you, he can touch yours. If he helped one person overcome his doubts and self-pity and thoughts of destruction, then he can help you.
There are so many people God has saved. Why wouldn't he save you? Jesus got up on the cross and allowed himself to be killed to save a person like you and a person like me. And if God so loved that he gave his only begotten Son, then what is God willing to do with and for you so that death was not in vain. God is waiting. He can do it for and with you. All it takes is that you have faith. If you want to come home to God, come home to this church, come home to Jesus, all you have to do it take one step. Because if you make one step towards God, He'll make 2 towards you.
God can do it. Jesus can do it. And all you have to do is accept their invitations to come home. He did it for a lot of us. And he can do it for you too.
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