Job lived thousands of years ago, possibly during the time of Abraham. He was a righteous man, incredibly blessed by God. Yet, in a single day, he lost it all -- his vast wealth and his ten children. Then, after all this grief, the devil tortured his body. His suffering was so great, emotionally and physically, that he could only sit in a heap of misery.
His wife had advised him to “curse God and die.” After that, his “friends” who came to comfort him, turned on him mercilessly. They felt certain a good person would never suffer this degree of misfortune. Surely, they surmised, Job had feigned goodness and was, in fact, a wicked creature who finally got justice. To them, Job’s only hope was to come clean and repent.
But Job was innocent. He had tried to live his whole life in unfeigned righteousness before God and man. He could make no sense of what had stricken him. He exhibited roiling emotions throughout his ordeal.
And yet, sometimes light burst through as Job refused to succumb to the darkness that sought to vanquish him. In Job 23:10, for example, we see how Job rose from his bitterness to blazon his hope: “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” What an amazing proclamation! This beautiful man, so beaten and broken, feeling so forsaken by the God whom he had always loved and served, grabbed hold of hope again. He refused to let hope die!
Things are not getting easier in our world. Our Lord promised the End Times would be like birth pangs that grow stronger and stronger. That’s intense! But consider the hope given here. The ordeal ends in joy! In our own anguish, Jesus urges us to see the big picture and to keep hope alive!
Think of the Psalms. Expressing raw human emotions, they sometimes take us on emotional rollercoasters. In Psalm 71, for instance, we feel the psalmist’s distress as he laments, “Those who watch for my life consult together and say, 'God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver him'" (v. 10b-11). Yet a few breaths later, he soars to heights of faith as he courageously declares, "But as for me, I shall always have hope; I will praise you more and more" (v.14). Ah, wonderful hope transcending earthbound sorrows to shout God’s praise!
The Apostle Paul endured numerous tribulations. Yet he, too, held tightly to hope and reigned over his afflictions. From his own experience, he could proclaim in Romans 5:5 that “hope does not disappoint us.”
It amazes me how sometimes well-meaning Christians, just like Job’s friends, think Job somehow brought his misery upon himself. They need to read the story! God didn’t judge Job. Far from it, He exhibited Job’s righteousness to the devil and to the whole cosmos. “Look at Job,” God bragged. “I have no one like him on earth!”
God allowed the devil’s testing to prove Job’s righteousness. It was a miserable season but only a season. In the end, God restored Job, and he knew God in a whole new way. His friends’ theology books could be tossed and whole new ones written.
God still points us to Job. For eons this man has stood as a faithful champion of righteousness. Also, because of the agony he endured, he towers as an icon of perseverance and hope.
Perhaps you can relate to Job; perhaps you are in a season of suffering, maybe even intense suffering. The Early Church looked to Job for confidence amid hardship. James wrote, "Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy." (James 5:10-11).
Dear friend, here is the Spirit’s message to you: Don’t give up! Hold on to your hope! It will not disappoint you! Read God’s promises, treasure them, memorize them, stand in them. God will bring you through, and you “will come forth as gold.”
My prayer for you (and me): Lord Jesus, I pray for my friends. This hour demands courage. Things are intensifying in our world. Yet You have called Your people to overcome. Help my friends to understand and appropriate the hope that will carry them through. Enable them, like Job, to persevere in hope and come through the other side as fine gold. Help us all, Lord. This is for the praise of Your glory, Jesus. Amen.