Torchbearers for Christ
Sunday, September 23, 2018
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LIGHT IN OUR DARKEST TIMES

 
The background for today’s study is found in Job chapter 19.
 
At the beginning of this chapter, we find that Job is in a state of utter misery and hopelessness. Covered all over with unsightly boils, he feels that God is angry with him, and is looking upon him as one of His enemies (19:11). He has lost his family and his possessions, his friends have forsaken him, and even little children despise him (19:14-19).
 
When we remember how God described Job in chapter 1:8 saying “there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that fears God and shuns evil”, we may wonder why God allowed His servant to suffer in such a way. But then as we know, sometimes good people pass through very difficult times, and as we proceed we shall see that Job’s situation changed completely when he was able to look ahead and see “the big picture”. Surely there is a lesson here for us all. We may never have to endure the painful experiences that Job knew, but most of us will pass through times of pain and sorrow when we may find comfort in leaning on God’s promises of a “blessed hope” in the life to come.
 
Job longed to share the discovery he had made with us all, saying, “Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book. That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever”. He then shares his experience, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand in the latter day upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself and my eyes shall behold and not another” (19:23-27). Such words as these declare plainly that Job was “longing for a better country – a heavenly one” (Hebrews 1:16) and this revelation turned his gloom into gladness. Job had obviously been taught by God to believe in a living Redeemer, and to look for the resurrection of the dead and a blessed life in the world to come.  
 
As we know, Paul also experienced the most difficult and painful trials during his ministry. The Lord had said of him, I will show him how great things he must suffer for My Name’s sake (Acts 9:16), and he certainly did suffer. Some of his trials are listed in 2 Corinthians 11:23-33. They include persecutions, beatings, stoning, hunger and thirst, imprisonment, cold and nakedness.
 
How did Paul cope with these painful times? Like Job, he saw “the big picture.” He believed in a blessed future where there would be no more suffering, no more pain. He tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  He continues with this theme in Romans 8:18 saying, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Then in Philippians 3:20 he writes, “But our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ who will change our lowly body to be like His glorious body.”
 
What a blessed future awaits the believer; the best is yet to come. Job found comfort in this prospect and so may we. He told us “I know that my Redeemer liveth”, and we too may share his blessed hope. Because Jesus, our blessed Redeemer lives, we will live also (John 14:19).
Let us close with some of the words from a lovely old hymn.
 
                      “No parting yonder, no sad goodbyes,
                       No pain, no sickness, and no weeping eyes,
                       But, best of all, my Saviour I shall see,
                       No cloud will  come between my Lord and me”
 
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  Since 1983 he has traveled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.