Hope For The Future
March 20, 2019
The Bible teaches that the providence of God is able to turn that which seems to be grieving, into something amazing. God’s planning is incomprehensive in this way. He has every detail of every individual life worked out from beginning to end. He is able to fit all people together in ways so as to reveal His attributes and character through the work He does in each of us. This is true of the believer and the non-believer. God has accounted for every life and every circumstance. God knows how to leverage the circumstances of life for His purposes so as to engage His people with purpose unto His glory. We don’t always understand how God will produce a good effect out of issues that seem to be dire, but the scriptures show that He is able to do it every time no matter how things might seem to us. God knows all things, sees all things, controls all things, and is patient through all things so as to manifest His glory through all things, whether we recognize it or not.
The testimony of Job shows that Job had this hope. He felt like things were miserable for him, but had hope that God would make good use of his misery for the benefit of others in some way. Job had lost hope for himself in this life, but figured that the providence and sovereignty of God would make up for his loss. Job could not imagine his life continuing on for much longer, but trusted that God would leverage the darkness of his life to produce a good effect through the lives of those left behind. The testimony of Job 17:1-9 shows that Job had a pretty morbid outlook on his own life, but was hopeful about how God might use the misery of his life to uplift other blameless and upright people.
Job began his discourse by explaining again that his spirit had been broken. The continual rebuttals of his friends had worn him down, especially since Job thought that God was the cause of that opposition. Job figured that, while he was innocent of being a hypocrite, there must have been some other secret sin that offended God so that he was God’s chief enemy and primary target. This wasn’t true, but still, Job’s spirit was exhausted by the ways his friends were treating him; also on account of the physical distress that came with his sores and mental anguish from the loss of his children. Job had been through a lot, and he admitted that his friends just made things worse. Job felt that his days on this earth were being extinguished – the continual accusations of his friends were like the water God was using to put out the fire of his life. Job felt that there was no way he could endure much more and figured death to be, not only inevitable, but also one step away.
Before, Job figured death to be a glorious release from his suffering, but thought it was still at a distance. In Job 17:1-9, Job figured death to be on his doorstep. He stated that the grave was ready for him. Every breath that he took was being exhaled out of the same nostrils from which he took air in, and soon, that exit door would stop bringing air in. In Job’s mind, he could die at any moment. Job’s justification for this manner of thinking was on account of the treatment of his friends. His friends were not treating him friendly. They now took on the role of mockers. They were now sources of provocation as if instruments of the devil to take Job into Hades. Job felt that their relentless insults and accusations was evidence that God was done with doing good with Job in this life, and as a result, Job’s life would soon come to an end, being an offense to God. This way of thinking is about as morbid as it gets. Job’s pain and suffering was severe, but he was nowhere near close to death. Job, dwelling on the moment, could not imagine how or why God would do anything but cause death. In the mind of Job, it was impossible and pointless for Job to live any longer, not knowing the extent of God’s power to restore, redeem, and reengage.
Even though Job figured himself to be an enemy of God, receiving the brunt of God’s anger and wrath, he still sought the Lord and His mercy. Job was confident that his friends were useless to bring comfort and relief. Job was confident that his friends were not going to be of any help to him and were now his chief foes. Therefore, Job pleaded with God to come to his defense. Job’s friends continued to accuse and insult to the point of mocking Job’s condition and attitude. Job sought mercy and grace from God, hoping that God would come to his aid since it seemed like no one else would. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were not helpful to restore Job’s spirits, and made a public mockery of him. Job felt that God was his only defense. Job felt that his pitiful condition and appearance was so unattractive that he was hopeless in receiving help from any other person. God was his only comfort, solace, and peace.
Here, it is important to recognize that, while Job was confused about the cause and manner of his suffering, he never lost hope in the goodness of God. He was ignorant about things related to God’s eternal purposes, but all people are. His pleas and responses were totally human and reasonable considering the extent of suffering the scriptures document. In spite of all that, Job continued to reach out to God for mercy and grace. Job never lost sight of the truth – that God is always our source of comfort and help when it seems like the world is against us. When people inevitably fail us in life, God is unchanging as our Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Redeemer, and Comforter. No matter what anyone else does or says, the Lord is always God. Our personal circumstances and the ways people engage with us NEVER have an effect on God’s character and nature. When life fails us, God never does. He is always our advocate to take a stand on our behalf when we approach Him in humility and faith in the One who continually makes intercession for us – Jesus Christ.
While pleading to God as his only hope for help, he explained that the One who is able to comfort is the same One that judges the enemy. God’s comfort comes through the judgment of the enemy. Job figured his friends to be the enemy because they were the chief source of his current suffering. They played the role of the devil, accusing the one God considered blameless and upright. Job’s validation for considering his friends the enemy was on account of their ignorance. Job had plainly stated his suffering and the extent of it, looking for comfort from his friends, for quite some time. Yet, they remained blind to his cause. They could not understand his hurt. They could not understand his innocence. They could not understand his words, nor his desire to escape the sufferings of this life. Job figured that the lack of understanding his friends showed was on account of God’s sovereign hand. Since they were friends at one time, but betrayed him with treacherous accusations and condemnation, God had withheld understanding from them as their judgment. God used that ignorance against Job, but also showed that his friends were not so innocent themselves. Here, it is clear to see that those who fail to seek the Lord and respond to life according to their own wisdom and logic, are often times withheld from true knowledge from God. Those who think they know it all and can respond on behalf of God in their self-righteousness are often removed from true wisdom by God’s own hand. Job figured the self-righteousness of his friends to be so bad that God might even cause their children to be as unwise as his friends.
At the end of it all, Job hoped that his misery would be used for good purposes. He admitted that his life had become a byword – a mockery and source of jokes and ridicule to others. Not only was Job’s physical health a public pity, but the treatment he got from his friends made him a public spectacle. Job suffered from this to the point that his eyes swelled constantly from tears and his limbs had no strength or form. However, Job hoped that other upright men and women would see Job, the treatment he received, and be fired up to fight against similar injustices in the future. Job hoped that upright men and women would see him and be astonished, wondering how a man with Job’s past reputation could live in such a condition. Job hoped that the witness of the upright would stir them up to take a stand against hypocrites like his friends so that others who might suffer like Job would not have to endure insults and accusations on top of that suffering. Job hoped that the righteous would be ignited with strong hands to fight against the evil and painful works and words of the devil’s tools. Job had lost hope for himself, but found solace in that his life might be a rallying cry to the rest of God’s righteous servants to take up their crosses and stand up for those in need like him. In Job’s eyes, God might not have been willing to come to his defense in the moment, but was certainly able to exercise His transcendency to uphold justice and righteousness in the future – making the ugliness of his life into a motivator for glory in the future.