Days of Suffering

Days of Suffering – Aftermath of Suffering

By Karen Polich

A faith that is untested is really no faith at all. – Pastor Michael Cook

Concluding his Days of Suffering sermon series with Job 42, Pastor Michael Cook examined Job in the aftermath of all he had been through. Looking at Job’s life, we really have no excuse but to praise God in every circumstance.

In his repentance, Job recognizes God’s sovereignty. He knows that God is bigger than any struggle. When God sets His will on something, Satan cannot thwart it. Nothing can stop God’s purpose. Job sees God’s incredible power and the intimacy of his walk with God is deepened.

God was finished hearing from Job’s “friends”. He let them know He would listen to Job’s prayers on their behalf. These men had not spoken truth about God when they came to Job, yet Job shows forgiveness without bitterness. Job prayed FOR them, not for any punishment against them. He shows us what it looks like to extend the forgiveness God has given us to others. Without this kind of forgiveness in our own hearts, we miss the fullness of God’s forgiveness in our lives.

Job’s repentance and forgiveness brought about the reward of restoration. God restored everything to Job. His ability to see God in the suffering deepened his walk with Him.

Often we are more impressed with and focused on ourselves. An encounter with God gives us the opportunity to know Him with greater depth. It may mean being brought to our knees to bring our focus back to Him.

Big faith says, “God, I am going to trust you no matter what.” (See Psalm 34)

Can you praise God today in the midst of your circumstances?

Listen to the entire sermon series via podcast here.

Days of Suffering – The Challenge of God’s Silence

By Karen Polich

Pastor Michael Cook brings us to Job 32. Listen to the podcast here. We meet Elihu who though younger, turns out to be wiser than Job’s three “friends” who have been speaking to him. Out of respect, he waited until they were done before speaking.

Elihu is angry but respectful. He is upset with the supposed friends as well as Job for his continual arguments with God as he struggles. It is God who endows true wisdom and Elihu shows wisdom despite his age.

Job has experienced deep loss and pain. Added to all of the despair is his frustration with God’s silence. But unlike Zophar, Bildad and Eliphaz, Elihu begins to speak words of life to Job. He questions the three “friends” for their words and speaks with great passion while remaining impartial.

What do we do when we feel like God is silent? Do we listen to all of the voices around us? Is God’s wisdom something we seek? What God has called, He will sustain. Even in the midst of opposition, God’s plan in our lives cannot be stopped by other people. We are here to please Him.

When things become hard, we may ask if we are really where we are supposed to be. It may seem like God is being silent. Has God placed a calling on your life that you are struggling with? Continue to seek Him, you may be surprised by the messenger He sends your way.





Days of Suffering – A “Grave” Subject

By Karen Polich

You need never fear the grasp of death when you are in the grip of God!  – Pastor Michael Cook

Pastor Michael Cook continued his sermon series on the book of Job and brought us to Chapters 18 and 19. (Listen to the podcast here.) Bildad continues his assault on Job. He wants him to know that he is going to die a horrible death because of his supposed hidden sins. He goes on and on about the fate that awaits.

It reminds us that the world will shake us at times, especially surrounding death. Darkness may seem like it will engulf everything and that there will be no way out. When death looms, it is all around. How much thought have you given death? Until you have been faced with the pain that accompanies death, probably not very much. There is such finality when death is viewed with worldly eyes.

Job doesn’t view death through worldly eyes. He responds to Bildad with a faith that awakens, a belief that there is more. He questions why Bildad doesn’t leave matters between God and Job alone. He reminds him that there is no getting away from God. Job understands something very important. He has looked at his own life and the death that surrounds him and is focused on knowing that he will see God with his own eyes when his flesh has disappeared.

I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! Job 19:26



Days of Suffering – Responding to Criticism

By Karen Polich

Are you facing a critic in your life? You just can’t please everyone. You try and try, but you can’t seem to get it right no matter what you do. Sometimes, criticism follows you despite your best efforts.

Continuing his Days of Suffering sermon series from the book of Job, Pastor Michael Cook describes four filters to use when dealing with criticism. Listen to the complete series via podcast here.

When the criticism starts, we want to immediately respond. Defending ourselves and proving that the critic is wrong often brings more trouble to the situation. In Job 12-13, we learn from Job how to handle a critic.

Filter criticism responsively. Reacting to criticism inevitably leads to regret. When forced to answer critics, we must first examine our own heart. The response should come without anxiety or retribution. Job speaks into the heart of his critic with caution.

Filter criticism Godwardly. We can’t always fix the situation. Our focus needs to shift from the critic to God.

If you please God, it does not matter who you displease…but if you displease God, it does not matter who you please!

Filter criticism personally. Ask the hard question, “Is there any truth to what is being said?” This is a tough question. We see Job seek God for clarification on the matter of his own heart.

Filter criticism spiritually. We need to look at the criticism in the light of who God is and what His Word says. When we become more impressed with the greatness of God and less focused on the critic, it changes the view of the situation. The sting of criticism lessens when we are overwhelmed by God.

There is much to learn from Job about responding to critics even in our darkest hour. We have the opportunity to learn from his anguish how to address the critics. When criticism abounds, are you ready to focus on God first?



Days of Suffering – Confrontational Moments

By Karen Polich

Job 8-12

Job’s life had just been dismantled by unspeakable loss. Anguish engulfed him. His friends found him, but they brought no encouragement. Instead of comforting Job, they poured out words of confrontation and accusation.

Pastor Michael Cook takes us into the place where God can move confrontation and criticism into something that builds character. Listen to the podcast here. The crisis that comes in the midst of criticism and brutal accusation brings the need to focus on God’s character. It is a time when personal growth can happen in unimaginable ways. God stands in the gap for us when we are in despair.

The character of the critic builds from intimidation and the need to make an impression. The critic attacks you at your weakest. The hits come where you are most vulnerable, seeking to prove that you are wrong or worthless.

Regardless of circumstance, God’s grace runs deep. There is not a single sin our God cannot and will not forgive. God is amazing! He will take that despair and build something beautiful. His character is unwavering.

My dear friends, take note of this; Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19

Sometimes we may not be the one in despair, but the friend with the opportunity to bring comfort. Be careful not to share misery or create more hurt. What if the situation is such that God is doing mighty work through the pain and despair? We can learn from Job’s friends what not to do. A true friend will seek to speak life not more destruction.

Confrontational moments will come. Regardless of which side of the situation we find ourselves on, we have a choice. Will we let God build character or will we add to the misery?

Days of Suffering – Navigating the Depths

By Karen Polich

Even in your darkest moments, God is there, never leaving His beloved child. He hears your cries; he knows your pain. His love abounds no matter the circumstances. The Bible has many examples of God’s fierce, uncompromising love and how He will use someone who has walked through dark times and depression.

Pastor Michael Cook took us into the darkness of Job’s depression and how we can navigate the depths of our own worst times. (Read Job 3) Job’s dialogue resonates with honesty and reality. He pours himself out to God with complete transparency.

Three questions Job asks in the midst of his depression:
1. Why was I born?
2. Why am I alive?
3. Why can’t I die?

At the root of his despair, Job cried out “Why?” His intense pain brought him to utter brokenness. Beyond clear thoughts, Job was in the depths of suffering. Comfort seemed out of his reach.

In your darkest days, you are not alone. Jesus understands your pain and will not leave you. Never forget that God has a plan for your life and while you may find yourself caught in circumstances that bring utter desolation, God’s righteousness and love are unchanging. You can count on Him and trust Him even when all hope seems lost.

Proverbs 18:24 tells us, One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Pastor Cook gave us seven “helps” in time of trouble.
1. The strongest of God’s people enter into depression.
2. Realize that suffering occurs on many different levels.
3. It is unrealistic to look for someone to lift you out of your depression.
4. Take steps that will minimize the effect of the depression.
5. Trust God before you have the answers.
6. Give your hurt, pain, anger, bitterness and frustration to the Lord.
7. Understand God is at work.

Navigating the depths of suffering can seem impossible and the pain relentless, but God walks with you. Are you seeking Him today?

Listen to Pastor Michael Cook’s full sermon here.

Days of Suffering – Testing & Crisis

By Karen Polich

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

God is in control no matter what is going on in your life and God is always good. We choose to allow circumstances to dictate our reactions or we choose to bless the name of the Lord in all things. Job had experience after experience full of crisis. He was tested beyond measure, yet he chose to bless the name of the Lord.

Job 2:1-10
On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” Read more here at BibleGateway.

Pastor Michael Cook gave us two things to remember in times of testing and crisis. Listen to the podcast here.

Trust in God’s Sovereignty. God is always in charge. Satan never has the upper hand and must always report to God. You will be attacked time and time again, but the parameters are not set by Satan despite his ambition for total destruction. Complete control belongs to God alone.

You can express testimony. In crisis, a gentle response can speak into the heart of others. Job’s wife had also lost everything. Job responded to her outcry with the reminder of God’s control in all things. We should be bonded together in difficulty, not separated. How you choose to respond has a significant impact on those around you.

Job demonstrated what it means to truly walk with God. He showed us what it looks like to trust Him and bless the name of the Lord, despite circumstances. How about you? What sets you off? What will you choose to do?

Days of Suffering – Job: The Man,The Meeting & The Manner

By Karen Polich

Job had a particular belief system regarding God. Job blessed the name of the Lord in all things.

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:20-21


Regardless of life’s circumstances, the nature of God is unchangeable. How we react to our circumstances affects our relationship with Him. In all things, God is God. Understanding the character of God allows us to richly and rightly experience Him. Pastor Michael Cook brought us three driving factors that impact the way we relate to God.

Three truisms- the driving factors we need to understand:

1. Life is filled with circumstances that are not fair.
2. God may bless us in life, but He does NOT owe us blessings.
3. God is ALWAYS good; whether life is fair or not; whether we are blessed or not.

The Bible teaches us that God loves us, He wants to bless us, and He challenges us to be a reservoir of blessing to others. It does not teach us that we are entitled to demand from God. There isn’t anything that we deserve in the name of fairness or entitlement. There is a clear distinction between what God promises us and thinking that we deserve something from Him. God’s goodness is eternal and unyielding. Job understood this. It was the very foundation of his belief system.

Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” Job 1:8.  Ponder this: “Have you considered my servant (insert your name here)?”

How do you relate to God? Are you ready for your name to be on His lips in that question?

Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.

Days of Suffering: The Man & the Meeting – Part 2

By Karen Polich

“That’s not fair!”

How many times have you heard that statement? Complaints are waged in the name of fairness by people of all ages. A child will stomp their feet and cry, throwing a fit for all to see, while an adult often looks for justice, digging in their heals with outrage. If we want to see how unfair this broken world is, we don’t have to look far. Sickness, job loss, broken relationships and just bad circumstances name only a few of the unfair struggles we face.

As Christ followers we have a choice. We get to choose how we will approach the unfairness of this world. We can demand and expect life to be fair or we can choose to accept the fact that life isn’t going to be fair all of the time.

Pastor Michael Cook continued with Part 2, The Meeting, in his Days of Suffering sermon series. Pastor Cook gave us truism #1: Life is filled with circumstances that are not fair.

Last week we discovered Job, the man. Now we look at the meeting between God & Satan concerning Job. Listen to the podcast here.

Job 1:6-12

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan[b] also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

We have the luxury of seeing these events with the curtain pulled back, but not Job. Job is living out this situation with no idea that God and Satan have had this meeting. Satan is not just attacking Job, his assault is on the very righteousness of God. God saw Job as blameless. If there was anyone who didn’t deserve bad things happening to him, it was Job. What came upon Job, came without reason. It is a reminder to us that bad things happen to good people without reason.

Days of suffering will come regardless of what we do. How we choose to deal with suffering will define us.

When we live with the idea that we are entitled, we are on a path that takes us into the wilderness of misunderstanding. The unfairness of the cross can be our guide to remembering that life is not going to be fair and suffering will come. We can choose to trust God and the incredible promises He has given us.

How will you choose to face suffering in your life?





Days of Suffering: The Man & the Meeting -Part 1

By: Karen Polich

Twenty times Job asked God, “Why?” Twenty times God refused to answer Job’s question.

When we are buried deep in the hole of suffering, we want answers.  “Why?” seems like such a simple question to ask when we don’t understand. We want desperately to make sense of the senseless; we think understanding will somehow lessen the ache that comes with suffering. Perhaps understanding would bring comfort. What if that isn’t so?

Pastor Michael Cook’s latest sermon series, Days of Suffering, brings us to the book of Job. Job 1:1-5 tells us about the man. Spiritually Job is blameless and upright. He walked in obedience with fear of God and shunned evil. Financially he has much. Parentally he stressed his spiritual values into the home and constantly went before God on behalf of his children. Yet Job suffered.

Pastor Cook asked, “What if God’s way of comforting us is actually in those moments when He doesn’t tell us why? Could it be the greatest act of His mercy and grace?” Ecclesiastes 1:18 leads us to a profound thought of what the answer to “Why?” might mean.

 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. Ecclesiastes 1:18

Suffering brings many things, but it doesn’t always bring answers. We learn more about who is in control in the midst of our struggles and how to minister to people. We can also learn how to suffer as a child of God.

We will all suffer. Pastor Cook discussed 4 scriptural ways of suffering:

As this sermon series continues, we will learn what it means to suffer. We will learn from God’s Word and the life of Job.  Listen to Pastor Michael Cook’s podcast here.

  1. Persecution

This is undeserved. We see this over and over in the New Testament.

  1. Punishment

Suffering that comes in the deserved consequences when we have done something wrong.

  1. Chastisement

This comes out of God’s love. It is for our growth and to bring what is best for us.

  1. Affliction

Never completely understood in this world, this undeserved suffering is permitted by God. Job never saw his affliction coming.

As this sermon series continues, we will learn what it means to suffer. We will learn from God’s Word and the life of Job.  Listen to Pastor Michael Cook’s podcast here.

Are you engulfed in suffering, struggling with “Why”? Seek God, seek Him with everything.