A sermon idea based on Job 19:23-27a.
Job 19:23-27a NRSV
 “O that my words were written down! O that they were inscribed in a book!  O that with an iron pen and with lead they were engraved on a rock forever!  For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;  and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God,  whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”
The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…
Life leaves us with far more questions than answers, but there is tremendous power in deciding to believe in and declaring our trust in a living, redeeming God.
Information about the text that matters to the message, a potential outline, key truths to share, etc.
Job must be one of the most misunderstood books in the whole Bible (outside of The Revelation of John, of course). There are several reasons for this. It’s ancient. It’s anonymous. It’s poetic, rather than a historical narrative. It contains inspired words that were rebuffed by God. And the biggest reason it’s misunderstood is because of all the preconceived notions we import into it.
One of the most concise and helpful synopses I’ve found of Job comes from the Bible project…
And knowing what we do know about Job helps us to interpret the familiar passage we find in chapter 19, especially the phrase, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
(Also, if you haven’t heard it in a while, listen to Nicole C. Mullen’s song based on this verse.)
While there is a lot we don’t know about the book of Job, it’s pretty easy to see that it was given to us to help us navigate suffering while trying to hang onto a correct understanding of God, of ourselves, and of the world around us.
The introductory portion of Job reminds me of the beginning line in so many movie trailers…
In a world where…
Job was written for people navigating life in a world where suffering is a reality and there are few clear answers about why. If I were narrating the trailer for a movie based on the book of Job, It might begin with…
In a world where everything is falling apart… where good people suffer and evil people thrive… where God seems hard to find… and where reasons for our pain are few and far between comes the story of one man who tried to figure it all out…
We still live in that world. A thousand little kingdoms have risen and fallen since the book of Job was written, but we still live in a world where it’s impossible to explain the existence of a good God amidst such pain and suffering.
Far more questions are raised by Job than answers, and his friends weren’t ultimately very helpful either when it came to explaining the ways of God in the words of mankind.
But here, in these few verses, Job offers a single declaration that makes all the difference for living and suffering in a world like ours.
I know that my Redeemer lives.
Why do people suffer? I’m not entirely sure and most of my thoughts about it merely scratch the surface. Why does God allow pain? I don’t know for sure. But I do know this… my Redeemer lives.
I know that the one who has both the means and the mission of restoring and renewing all that is broken about our world, including my very own soul, is alive and at work.
And that mindset makes all the difference in my life. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me from spinning out of control in a flurry of self-destructive activity. It keeps me from losing hope on my worst days.
Personally, I’ve spent the last couple of years letting go of my dependence on certainty for security. I don’t have to know all the answers. But I have made a personal decision to believe that God is real, that he is my Redeemer, and that he has a plan for the redemption of lost humanity that is unveiled in the story of Jesus.
And knowing this makes all the difference in whether I’m going to last through tough times or not.
I can’t always say, “it’s going to work out,” or “it’s all going to be okay,” when it comes to our circumstances. I can’t always promise the pain will make sense. But I can know that the story ends with redemption. I know I’m going to see my Redeemer.
The big call-to-action in the message…
If you’ve struggled with your faith lately because it seems like you just can’t be certain about what you used to take for granted, that’s okay. Let go of the need to know everything for sure. Realize, instead, that you get to choose, by faith, to believe the very best about God – that he is a living and redeeming God who can be trusted for all eternity.
About the Cover Art: Repin, Ilʹi︠a︡ Efimovich, 1844-1930. Job and His Friends, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.