Job 14: Hope for the Suffering

Can you identify with Job? Have you lost your job? Is there a hole in your heart because you have lost a dear loved one or family member? Do you have a body that is falling apart? Are your emotions getting the best of you? Is your marriage horrible? Are you troubled by Satan? Have your reached out for comfort from your friends and only found counselors who point out your transgressions? Do you curse the day of your birth and long for the day of your death? If so, then Job is speaking your language.

There have been many chapters in the book of Job where he describes his woe. The conversation with his friends has been a real downer. However, in chapter 14, Job presents a ray of hope:

Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not … his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass … Oh that you would hide me in Sheol ….    (Job 14:1-13)

At least his days are temporary. Job sees himself as a withering flower who will soon be no more. He sees himself like a fleeting shadow that disappears with the changing light. Job is suffering horribly; his days are full of trouble, but he finds comfort in the fact that they are determined, appointed, limited and few. Therefore, Job longs to “continue not.” He counts the days till he fertilizes the lilies. Job prays that God might soon end his miserable existence and hide him in the grave. (Sheol)  But then he expresses even more hope. While Job understands that a man lives and dies only once on this earth, Job does not believe this is the end of man’s existence. Job is confident there will be a “rousing, a remembering, and a grace-based renewing.” Job is confident there will be better days for him on the other side of the grave:

But a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he? As waters fail from a lake and a river wastes away and dries up, so a man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep. Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come. You would call, and I would answer you; you would long for the work of your hands. For then you would number my steps; you would not keep watch over my sin; my transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and you would cover over my iniquity.    (Job 14:10-17)

Friends, all men wither, fail and are buried. All men are placed in the ground, and their bodies return to dust. Their bodies remain under earth for a time, but not for all time. For when the heavens are no more, man will be awakened or roused out of his sleep. Following a season in Sheol, man will be remembered, and then for some there will be renewal. On the day of judgment, the steps of man will be counted. But for some, for those who have been purchased by Jesus Christ, their sin will be forgotten. For Christ’s elect, their transgressions will be sealed up in a bag. Ultimately, man’s iniquity will be covered by God. All those in Christ’s family will be roused, remembered and renewed. In the afterlife, their days will never come to an end, and all will be well. Job understood this, and it caused him to loathe life and long for death.

However, Job’s story is not everyone’s story. While all must endure some sort of misery and suffering on this earth, all do not have the same comfort in life and death. While many are horribly suffering today, they are doing so without hope. They are not sure of their spiritual condition. They are not sure God will bag, cover and forget their sins. And for some, sadly, when they get to heaven, they will find their greatest fears realized. They will find that this world was not the only hell they would ever experience. They will realize this hellish world was the only heaven they would ever experience. For them, death will provide no solace. For them, death will sting greatly. Like Job, they will have suffered. Like Job, they will be roused and remembered. But unlike Job, they will not receive a grace-based renewal. Instead they will receive divine retribution based upon justice. For them, their hell will have only just begun.

Therefore, call upon Christ before your days of trouble come to an end. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day when anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord may be saved. Jesus promises rest to those who are heavily burdened. Following your repentance, perhaps he will give you immediate rest from your troubles today. But perhaps he will not; he may determine that you will hurt and suffer for the remainder of your days. Either way, he is your only hope for today and tomorrow.  Friends, why would you suffer today, tomorrow and forever? Confess your sins. Bow the knee. Proclaim his Lordship. Become part of the family of God and find comfort in your rousing, remembering and grace-based renewal.

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