David Jeremiah - Job: Overcoming the Overwhelming
One of the things I've learned after all these years of studying the Bible is that God never gets tired of telling his children that he loves them. He never gets tired of sending them illustrations of his care and concern, and because we are his ambassadors we should never get tired of doing that, either. We live in a world which has been described by many as a time of overwhelming situations, overwhelming concern. It's not a word that we used a lot until recently.
A lot of people today are overwhelmed, overwhelmed with problems. Policymakers seem to be confused and at a loss. Watching the news is really a frustrating, confusing thing, and you can switch channels and get whatever you want. The doctrines that we hear coming from the center of our government are confusing to us. Commentators, TV personalities join in this chorus of overwhelming confusion, and most of us have to understand that our world is overwhelmed with problems right now. And it isn't just our global world. It's our personal world, isn't it? We all know the troubles of the world have a way of seeping into our lives, even as Christians, and we get overwhelmed by these problems.
The issues of life can inundate our personal world so we don't know which direction we're going. And even though we know Jesus Christ, if we don't stay focused on the principles of the Word of God, we can get lost and wonder sometimes how we ever get back. The issues of life are dealt with in the Scripture. One of the reasons I love to preach on the characters of the Bible is because I understand and resonate with them. I understand who they are and what they're going through, and the problems that people had in Bible days are the same problems we have today. There's a lot of evidence that it's not uncommon to be overwhelmed, and if you're overwhelmed here tonight I have some good news for you. I wanna tell you the story of somebody who was truly overwhelmed.
Consider God's servant Job. The book of Job is the earliest book of the Bible to be written. A lot of people don't know that. They think Genesis is the earliest book. Genesis is the first book in the Bible, but it's not the earliest book written. The book of Job is, and let me tell you what that means. That means in the earliest book of the Bible that was written God was so concerned about helping us deal with life struggles that his first words to humanity were how to live with overwhelming circumstances as he tells us the story of Job. The theme of Job's life is about overcoming the onslaughts that overwhelm us, the things that shake our worlds to the very foundation.
I've heard some stories, since I've been here tonight, that just make me wanna hold on to something, because they're just so out of control and there seems to be no way you would even deal with that. And we find ourselves often hearing those stories and saying, "What would I do if that happened to me? How would I ever go through that"? So, here from the first chapter of Job is a little encouragement about how to deal with the overwhelming, becoming an overcomer. The testimony of Job is given to us in his book. Most of the biographical information is in the first few verses.
Job was a real man, a real person in history. Some liberal scholars say, "No, Job, wasn't real. He's just a metaphor of what life is like when you have trouble". Let me tell you something. If Job were here tonight, he would tell you, "I ain't no metaphor". His book is not a work of fiction. It reflects things that happen to a godly man of moral character. Lemme tell you about this man right from the Scripture. Let me tell you about his faith. Job chapter 1, verse 1 says, "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil".
Job wasn't sinless. He wasn't perfect, but he was a complete and mature man of righteousness. The word "blameless" is related to the word "integrity". That integrity was witnessed, too, by God himself. Later on in Job chapter 2, when the Lord is speaking to Satan about Job, he describes him this way, "Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him without cause.'" The Lord God said that Job was a man of integrity. You can't have a higher witness than the Lord God himself.
Now, people who have integrity are people who are whole persons. The word "integrity" comes from the word "integro," which means one. They are without hypocrisy. They are without duplicity. In the face of his friends' accusations against him and God's silence when he wanted to know what was going on, Job maintained his integrity. He didn't change. He was who he had always been. The first verse of Job tells us that along with his integrity he feared God, and he shunned evil. To fear the Lord means to respect who he is and to hold him in high regard. Doesn't mean to be afraid of him so much.
What Job did was he respected God. When he spoke his name, he spoke it with reverence, and the Bible speaks often of the value of fearing God and having a respectful attitude, an attitude that used to be prevalent in our culture years ago but is long lost in the days in which we live. Job's faith. Let me tell you about his family, because here in the first verses of this chapter of Job we have a report filed on the family of Job.
"And seven sons and three daughters were born to Job. And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, 'It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.' And thus Job did regularly".
Now, watch what's going on here. Job's family was truly a sign of God's blessing upon him, and from what we can learn he had a really good family. The Bible says they met frequently to celebrate their birthdays. That's what it means in the text. And the fact that the girls were included in the party, now that's a big deal in the Old Testament. That wasn't often true. In Job's family, if you were a daughter, you were treated just like you were a son. They came to the parties, too. The Bible says that when they would come to these birthday parties, at the end of each of the festivals and celebrations Job would go apart, and he would offer a special sacrificial offering for each one of his children.
And the Bible says that Job did this, kind of, as a proactive measure. He didn't know that they had done anything wrong, but it says in the Scripture he did it because they might do something wrong and not be aware of it, and he wanted to get out in front of that with a worship and sacrifice to Almighty God. Job's family. I suppose I should tell you about his fortune. He was a rich dude. Listen to this. "Also, his possessions were seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, and a very large household, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the East".
Now, in the days of Job wealth wasn't calculated in dollars and cents, but in terms of land and animals and servants. Job had all three in abundance. Job belonged to the elite group of the Old Testament of wealthy people the Bible tells us about, which included Abraham and Solomon. He was, according to the Scripture, the wealthiest, greatest man on the earth during his time. And he had his wealth. His wealth didn't have him. What a difference that is. I know a lotta people that have wealth, only the problem is their wealth has them.
Listen to what the Bible says about Job in the 31st chapter of this book. I just kinda jumped ahead to throw this in, to give you a little insight on how Job managed his wealth. He said, "If I have made gold my hope, or said to fine gold, 'You are my confidence'; if I have rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because my hand had gained much; this would be an iniquity". Whenever we have anything that seems overwhelming to us, we just need to remember whatever we have is from God, and we need to give him the credit and give him the praise and the honor. And that's what Job did. So, Job had an impeccable faith, he had an incredible family, he had an unbelievable fortune, and he had some friends.
Now, we may wanna discuss that a little bit later on, but Job had some friends. It says in Job 2:11, "Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him". I won't go any further with that right now, except to say that from chapter 3 to chapter 37 in the book of Job you will find the dialogue between Job and his friends.
Now, I've often thought that the best part of their friendship is when they came and they sat for a few days and didn't say anything. Once they started talking, it went downhill. How many of you know that when somebody is suffering sometimes the best thing you can do is just go sit with them? It's really hard to know what to say. Whatever you'd say, don't say, "I know what you're going through," 'cause you don't mostly. So, Job had some friends and over and over, after Job began to hear their counsel, these friends said, "Job, there's something so wrong in your life that God is punishing you. Your suffering is special punishment from God". This was their constant refrain. In essence, they said, "Job, you need to confess the terrible evil that has brought you all this trouble. What awful thing have you done? Why is God punishing you so severely"?
How many of you know there are a lotta people today who believe that? That when you're going through hard times it's a punishment from God. We went to eat at one of our favorite eating places in Jerusalem called The American Colony Hotel. Now, I gotta tell you the story about this 'cause it's a really interesting story. First time I went there, we sat down to eat, and there was a little brochure by the plate. And I opened it up, and I discovered I was in a very unique place. The American Colony Hotel is owned by the family of the man who wrote "It Is Well with My Soul".
I read the whole brochure. I was taken by it. This family, as you know, lost their children when the wife was on her way to the Continent and there was a storm, and the children drowned. And she ended up sending a telegram to her husband. Two words: saved alone. In other words, "I'm the only one left". And in order to get his wife, he got on a ship and went over to pick her up, and on the way, as they got near to the place where the drownings had happened, the captain of the ship came down, and he said to Horatio Spafford, "This is about the place where your daughters were lost, and I just wanted you to know".
According to the story, Horatio Spafford had a piece of stationery from a hotel where he had stayed in Chicago before going to the Continent, and he pulled out that piece of paper, and he wrote the words to "It Is Well with My Soul". But the story that is not known about the Spaffords is that when he got back home with his wife, having lost his daughters, he was the pastor of a church in Illinois, and the board of elders of that church called a meeting and asked him to leave as their pastor because he had suffered such a great tragedy. He must have done something terrible that they didn't know about, and they fired him as their pastor.
And you think you've had a tough time, pastor. Just take some encouragement right there, and what happened was they decided that they no longer wanted to minister in the United States, and they moved to Jerusalem, and they started an orphanage at which time they began to minister to people in that community. At one time, they had over 30,000 children in their orphanage, and one of the remnants of their ministry is The American Colony Hotel. While we were eating there the first time, the proprietor came to me, said, "You seem really interested in this guy". I said, "Yeah, he wrote my favorite gospel song". He said, "Would you like to meet his granddaughter"? I said, "Oh, I sure would". He said, "Well, she'll be here tomorrow at this time. Come back".
It was a good way to get me to come back to the restaurant, but I went back, you know? I met her. She was 103 years old, the oldest granddaughter I've ever met in my life. I knew the story of Horatio Spafford's writing of the hymn, but I didn't know the story of the way he was treated by a church who had the same problem that Job's friends had. They thought that because he suffered he must have done something wrong. And while it is true that Job's friends hurt him deeply and wronged him greatly, they were still his friends. When they heard about Job's calamities, they traveled a long distance to visit him, and they sat in silence and sympathized with him. Their mistake was when they started to talk and they said the wrong things, but you know in the end we are told that Job's forgiveness of their wrong was one of the prerequisites to his own recovery.
It says in Job 42:10: "And the Lord restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends". We gain additional insights into Job's character when we turn to chapter 29 of his book, and we see how he described himself at this particular time in his life. He's gone through the trouble that we're going to investigate in just a moment, and he's looking back over his life, and he's remembering what it was like before all these things happened to him, and he writes these words, "Oh, that I were in as months past, as in the days when God watched over me; when his lamp shone on my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness; just as I was in the days of my prime, when the friendly counsel of God was over my tent".
Job said, "Oh, if I could only go back to those days before all this happened, when I was in the very sweet spot of my life". Before his troubles, Job felt as if God's lamp shone on his life. Even in dark times the light of God's presence brightened his life, and he had access to the friendly counsel of God. But the book of Job, as you know, is not about how good Job's family was or how much money he had or all of the other ancillary things that we've talked about. The book of Job is about what happened to him, about the testing of Job. We've listened to the testimony of Job.
Let me remind you of the testing of Job. Job was a man of deep moral character, and yet one day everything went wrong in his life. If you've ever had a bad day and you wanna be encouraged, read Job chapter 1, and you will feel better. In verse 6 the curtain is drawn back, and we are allowed into a meeting between God and Satan. Please hear me. Job did not know about this meeting, nor was he ever told about this meeting. He never ever heard what I'm about to describe. He went through all of this blind, but the Bible gives us some insight into what was going on. We listen to the conversation between God and Satan, and we discover that there is a lot more going on with Job than meets the eye. This section is all about Satan and his dealings with men and God.
There's a whole bunch you can learn about the adversary in these few verses. First of all, Satan's activity. "And there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, 'From where do you come?' And Satan answered the Lord and said, 'From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.'" When the ministering angels, or the sons of God, stand before God, the Bible said Satan is among them. When Satan is asked about his activity, he responds that he has been going up and down upon the earth, walking to and fro upon the earth. And it all sounds familiar to us because we know that verse in the New Testament that says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour".
Satan's been up to it from the first book that was ever written in the Bible, until what went on in your and my life today. Satan's goal is to devour the influence of God's people. Someone once asked me, "Why is it that it seems like there are so many people who are in spiritual leadership and have great influence over the family of God, and they fall into some sin and their life is ruined, and the testimony of their church is destroyed"? Why is that? Because Satan's number-one goal is to snuff out the influence of anyone who's making a difference in the kingdom of God. That's what he's up to, and the activity of Satan is only possible because he has access.
"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came among them. So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord". Now, I know this is a hard thing for us to comprehend. That Satan is a fallen creature, yet he still has access to God. He's not been excluded from God's presence. In spite of what some may think, Satan is not yet in hell. He's headed there, but he's not there yet. He has access to heaven and to earth, and when he comes before God what is he called? He is the accuser of the brethren. What is Satan doing in heaven before God? He's telling God all the stuff he knows about you, as if God didn't already know. Satan's accusation is in verses 8 through 11. Here's where the plot begins to thicken.
"Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?' And Satan answered the Lord and said, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not made a hedge around him, around his household, around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face!'"
One of Satan's names is the accuser of the brethren, and this was the strategy with Job. Here's what Satan was saying to God. He was saying, "God, you have protected Job and that's the only reason he serves you, but if you take away his protection he'll curse you right to your face". Satan's attack was really against God. He was saying, "God, you and Job made a deal. He's promised to worship you as long as you prosper him. God, you are not worthy to be worshiped, so you have to pay people to worship you". Even though Job did not know God was doing this, he held fast to his integrity, and he blessed God.
Please note that God found no fault with Job. God's statement in verse 8 is the same as the statement in verse 1. On three occasions God says that Job is not guilty, and we're going to see how amazing that is. Notice Satan has access, he makes accusations, but he's also accountable. "And the Lord said to Satan, 'Behold, all that Job has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.' So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord".
How many of you know Satan has some power but he's on a leash, and the other end of the leash is in the hand of God? Satan can't do anything God won't let him do. God has set boundaries for Satan's activities. As some have observed, God has Satan on a leash. We may not encounter all the trials that Job had. God forbid that any of us would even come close, but when we are overwhelmed with the crisis of our own lives we better follow the example of Job. The New Testament says this about Job in James chapter 5, "My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord, that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful".
Now, let me tell you what happened to Job. Some of you know this. Some of you may not. This is a story unparalleled. The trials of Job. The next section here describes Job's loss of everything, with the exception of his wife. First of all, the loss of his stock and his servants. Job 1:13 to 15: "Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house; and a messenger came to Job and said, 'The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided them and took them away, indeed they have killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to come and tell you!'"
Here comes the first of four messengers to tell Job that his oxen and donkeys have been stolen, and all the servants who were watching them have been killed, and only one guy is left, and he's the guy who brings the bad news to Job. Next is the loss of his sheep and his shepherds. Verse 16: "While he was still speaking, another also came and said, 'The fire of God fell from heaven, burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I alone have escaped to tell you!'" It is interesting to note that the servant blamed God for the fire, whether it was a lightning storm or a volcano or just special fire of some kind.
Once again, only one guy was left to function as the messenger to Job, and as you read this it's, kind of, in staccato format. You can just barely get out from under the impact of one thing, and the next thing is happening, kind of, like on the last notes of the first one. This is the first of three instances of the phrase "while he was yet speaking". The repetition of this phrase was for the purpose of showing how rapid these things happened one after the other. The loss of the stock and the servants. The loss of the sheep and the shepherds. Now the loss of the servants and the camels. "While he was still speaking, another came and said, 'The Chaldeans formed three bands, raided the camels, took them away, yes, killed the servants with the edge of the sword; and I alone have escaped to come and tell you!'"
Now, Job's camels, the most prized possession of his world, are gone, but it gets worse. In verses 18 and 19 of chapter 1 we read of the loss of his sons and daughters. "While he was yet speaking, another came and said, 'Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are all dead; and I alone escaped to come and tell you!'" Think of this man and his wife. For all their years on this Earth, they had loved and led these children in a godly manner, had birthday parties for all of them every time, had sacrifices for each one of them.
Job prayed for them each one by name regularly and now all he has to show for it are ten freshly dug graves. And, worst of all, there is no explanation from God. Job wants to know what's going on, and it's like the heavens have become brass. There's no word from God. Does God know what's going on? Yes, he does, but he has not told Job. And then, God begins to get closer and closer to Job himself, and we read of the loss of his health, Job chapter 2. When Job failed to succumb to Satan's attacks upon his life, Satan came back to God with another proposal. Listen to this. "So Satan answered the Lord and said, 'Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But if you stretch out your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, he will surely curse you to your face!'"
So, the Lord covered Job's body with boils from his head to his feet. Anybody here ever have a boil? Oh, my word. And the Bible says, "Job took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes". Is there any more hopeless, pitiful story you have ever read in the Bible or out that a man who has lost everything he ever had, lost all of his status in the community, lost all of his children, and then lost all of his health, and he still does not know what's going on? Now we come to the triumph of Job. At the end of this first chapter, we get our first glimpse into Job's integrity, tested by adversity.
Let me just tell you quickly that Job did five things that are recorded in the Bible, and they give us a wonderful conclusion and an application for us today. First of all, Job released his grief to God. It says in verse 20, "Then Job arose and tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground". That is the conventional way a person in Job's time expresses grief. He was a godly man, but now this godly man is a grieving man. How many of you know you can be a godly man and a grieving man all at the same time? Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Mark my words, there's no disconnect in these two things. We sorrow not as others who have no hope, but we do sorrow, and so we should.
Job is filled with grief and sorrow, but we know from what the Scripture tells us that he has not lost one iota of his godliness. He's a godly man who's a grieving man. And then, he responded to the greatness of God. In verse 20 he said, "And he fell to the ground, and he worshiped". Are you kidding me? The words of Charles Swindoll set this moment in perspective. He wrote, "The wicked spirits at with their mouths wide open as they watched a man who responded to all of his adversities with adoration, who concluded all of his woes with worship".
Job, you are a better man than I am, and all the people said amen. Then, he reflected on the goodness of God. The Scripture says he says to God, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord". Everything Job had was given to him by God. God gave it and, according to Job, God had the right to take it away. And then, he refused to assign guilt to God. In verse 22 the Bible says, "In all this Job did not charge God with wrong". Job refused to play the blame game. What is the first thing we often do when we're going through trouble? "Lord, why is this happening to me? Lord, why are you doing this to me?" as if God has singled you out for some special treatment.
Job refused to play the blame game, and then the Bible says in verse 22 he remained guiltless before God. "In all this", in all what? In all that I've just told you, in everything you've just heard tonight. "In all this Job did not sin". In verse 10 he said, "'Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?' In all this Job did not sin with his lips". In this book, the book of Job, there are three great statements of faith that give us the ultimate insight into why Job was able to deal with the overwhelming by becoming an overcomer.
Is Job an overcomer here? Is he an overcomer because he's had a good life? No, he's an overcomer in spite of everything that's happened to him because he knows some things. Here's what he knows. First statement, Job 13:15. Job said, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him". Say that with me out loud, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him". If our trust is conditioned upon what we believe God has allowed in our lives, our trust is not very deep.
We had a terrible accident on our campus several years ago. We have, kind of, a spread-out campus at Shadow Mountain, and some of our people move about on this campus in golf carts. And we had a woman who worked in our financial office who was delivering some papers to another building, and she'd gotten in the golf cart right in front of the main entrance. And one of our workers was coming in a pickup truck, and he either had a mild stroke or he just lost control, and he hit that golf cart and killed that woman right on the spot. One of the worst things that's ever happened in anything I've had to do with in ministry. I did not know her very well. I knew her husband because they had a son who played in the same basketball league as my son, and I'd seen him at ball games and sat with him, and I never thought of him as being much of a spiritual giant, so I was shocked when I did the funeral and he asked if he could speak.
Now, I gotta tell you something. If you're a pastor and you let people speak at a funeral, you can get in a lotta trouble. I won't tell you the stories. I could tell you tonight about some of the stuff. I mean, I had a funeral of a cowboy and on the way out, as they're carrying the casket back out to the hearse, everybody stands up singing, "Happy trails to you". I'll never forget that, and it happened in my church.
Listen, I waded through the sermon till the time of testimony, and when he got up I'll never forget what he said. It was very short. He said, "Everywhere I go, people ask me, 'Chip, how are you handling this? How are you getting over this?'" And he said, "Here's what I tell 'em," and this is what I'm gonna tell you. He stopped for a moment, and he looked at us, and he said, "I trust God". And he sat down. I will never forget that. "I trust God". Job said, in essence, "I trust God. No matter what happens, no matter what happens in my life, if he slays me, yet will I trust him". That's the kind of faith it takes to get through the overwhelming world in which we live, to know that, first of all, we have a deep, unconditional connection with the God of the universe, and we trust him. We trust him.
And the second statement was in chapter 19. This is another amazing statement. Job said, "I know that my Redeemer lives". Now, let's go on to the statement. Job said, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me"! Now, wait a minute. Jesus wasn't here yet. There's no Jesus in Job, and yet somehow Almighty God gave to Job a premonition, a pre-looking at who Jesus was so that he could say, "I know that my Redeemer lives".
And Job wasn't just making a theological statement. I'm gonna read this again, and I'm gonna emphasize the personal pronouns. This will grab you. Watch this. "I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me"! This is Job. God did something in Job's heart. The truth of the redemption of the soul, and the person of the Redeemer, and the resurrection of the body, and the second coming of Christ, and the end of the world, and the promise of everlasting life.
All of that in what arguably the earliest book of the Bible. Is this book incredible or what? In the Old Testament, in the earliest book ever, here's the whole story of redemption. "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him. And I know that my Redeemer lives". And here's the last one. Job 23:10: "He knows the way that I take; and when he has tested me, I shall come forth as gold". In other words, Job is saying, "This is a test of my faith and when it's over I'm gonna come forth like gold. And in the process I'm gonna closely follow his steps, and I'm gonna listen carefully to the words of his mouth".
And the story of Job ends in Job 42. And verses 1 and 2 of that chapter says, "Then Job answered the Lord and said: 'Lord, I know that you can do everything, and that no purpose of yours can be withheld from you.'" In other words, "God, you're the sovereign Lord of the universe. You could have let all of this pass me by, but you let it come to me because there was a purpose in it for me". In this final chapter, God met with Job, and Job prayed for his friends, and the Lord restored his life and his property and his family. And the book of Job concludes with these words, "After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and his grandchildren and his four generations. And Job died, old and full of days".
And you know that God restored to him his family twice over. So, what is the story in all of this? Are you overwhelmed tonight? You've never been overwhelmed like that. You say, "Well, Pastor Jeremiah, I'm just so overwhelmed. I don't think I'm gonna make it". Why not? Could Job have said, "I'm so overwhelmed"? If anyone had the right to say it, he did, but Job said, "No, I'm gonna trust God no matter what. I'm gonna stand with God. I know that my Redeemer lives and one day I'll be with him in heaven forever". And I don't understand what's going on down here, but I'm an overcomer because I'm a child of God.
I don't know if you've ever heard the story of John Howland, the boy who fell off the Mayflower. He was a young indentured servant who was told to stay down below deck in the crowded hold of the ship with all the other pilgrims. And it was dark and smelly and crowded, and so one day he decided to get himself some fresh air. He climbed up the ladder, popped open the hatch, stepped onto the deck. And the sea was tempestuous, and when the ship lurched violently to one side, Howland flew overboard, right into the raging sea. That should've been the end of him, but somehow Howland, who was 20-something, managed to grab a rope, and he held on for dear life. At times, he was pulled 10 feet beneath the water, but he never let go, and the sailors aboard the Mayflower somehow managed to haul him back into the ship.
There's a book about this written by Nathaniel Philbrick, and he writes these words, he said, "When William Bradford wrote about this incident more than a decade later, John Howland was not only alive and well, but he and his wife, Elizabeth, were on their way to raising 10 children, who would in turn produce an astounding 88 grandchildren". Historians tell us that millions of Americans have descended from this boy who would not let go of the rope in the greatest crisis of his life. Had he let go, he would never have lived to be married, to father children, to see his grandchildren, and to be the progenitor of millions of Americans, but he held on.
Ladies and gentlemen, like Job, sometimes we just have to hold on, hold on to the rope of God's goodness, hold on to the rope of his grace, hold on to the promises of his Word, and know that God is to be trusted. And if we can trust him with our eternal destiny, surely we can trust him with the things we don't understand that happen to us on our way there, amen?