We continue with our sermon series entitled ‘Suffering Job’. With preaching from John Western and our worship service led by Beverley Sills.
Looking back I can see how God has woven details together in a beautiful way. God’s plan? Would anything different have left me disobedient or discontented?
Does God’s plan for our lives include every detail from cradle to grave?
We know he was suffering. Among the more general questions of how and why God allows suffering, the specific question raised now is, “Has God planned all these calamities for Job?”
Eliphaz gives an answer in chapter 22. “Because all are wicked, we don’t experience God’s plan. We have gone astray.” He advises Job “Submit to God and then you will experience his good plan for your life.”
For Job, it is more complicated.
In chapter 26, he asks, “Who can understand God?”
Simple answers don’t fit with Job’s experience, yet Job refuses to give up on God.
Job is honest about how he feels. Job 23:8,9 Where is God?
Job longs to experience His presence Job 29:2
It even feels like God is planning against Job – Job 23:14
In the midst of all this Job is confident that God knows his path Job 23:10
In effect “I don’t know if God has a detailed plan for my life including all this suffering, but however I got here, He knows, and it is OK”
What about Jeremiah 29:11? “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Adam’s suffering a result of his choice. But to assume every problem is because of our own direct choice is the mistake Eliphaz expresses in Job 22.
Esther. God’s purposes will prevail – but He is able to achieve them through different means.
Joseph. God can redeem and turn our lives around.
Stephen. His death achieved much, but was it planned by God?
For all the unanswered questions, there are things of which we can be certain. God has good purposes for our lives and will fulfil them.
First purpose for us to be loved by Him. Ephesians 1:4–5
Another purpose is to be fruitful, John 15:16, doing good, Ephesians 2:10
God’s ultimate purpose for us, is to spend eternity in heaven with him. John 14:3
Questions for further thought and study
- How much do you think God’s plan for your life is mapped out in every last detail and how much do you think it is more about broad purposes?
- Can you think of happenings in your own life which you believe to be examples of being in or out of God’s plan? What do they tell us about God’s plan and purposes for us?
- Consider the example of Stephen’s martyrdom (Acts 7:54-60). It undoubtedly had positive effects on the growth of the early church. To what degree do you think “God planned it”? What does your answer say about God?
- The Bible clearly declares both that God is sovereign and that human beings have free will. These often need to be held in tension (If we can choose freely to do something outside of God’s plan, how can He be sovereign?) Is this tension resolved by saying God knows what choices we will make in advance? If not, how do we hold on to both?
Sermon Title: “Does God have a plan for my life?”
Bible Reading: Job – chapters 22-31
Preacher: John Western
Worship Leader: Beverley Sills