WHEN HOPE IS GONE
It has been said “That a person can live three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food, but not one second without hope.” Job was at this point in his life as he responds to Eliphaz! Here is a man, who seems to have lost all hope; and the only escape of his suffering, is death. Job has lost the will to live and he was now ready to die.
What brought Job to this point?
Was it the loss of his children?
Was it the lack of support from his wife?
Was it his friends who came with harsh words and accusations?
I believe they all have their part in Job’s outlook of life…. But the answer to that question is that Job had taken his eyes off the Lord. Job no longer believed that God was working for his good. Job believed that God was working against him. It shouldn’t surprise us that Job, or anyone one of us, wouldn’t do the same. Remember what Job said previously leading up to his response to Eliphaz. “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?” Job 3:11 “I have no peace, no quietness, I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Job 3:26 “I loathe my very life, therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.” Job 10:1
Job wasn’t alone in this area of life, according to the Scriptures! David felt lost, hopeless and abandoned by God and this was the result of him taking his eyes of the Lord. “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” Psalm 13:1-2
Elijah was discouraged, weary, and afraid. “But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, "It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers." 1 Kings 19:4
Jeremiah wrestled with great loneliness, feelings of defeat, and insecurity. “Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, "A son is born to you," making him very glad. Let that man be like the cities that the LORD overthrew without pity; let him hear a cry in the morning and an alarm at noon, because he did not kill me in the womb; so my mother would have been my grave, and her womb forever great. Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?” Jer 20:14-18
The disciples who witnessed amazing things, lacked hope. "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” John 14:1-11
It’s hard to see any relief or hope when you can’t see the forest for the trees. Even in their despair or lack of hope…… one thing is true! God was with them, He was Close, He was near.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm. 34:18
You need to remind yourself of this truth daily, you must preach this to yourself constantly throughout the day. John Piper said “Hoping in God does not come naturally for sinners like us. We must preach it to ourselves, and preach diligently and forcefully, or we will give way to a downcast and disquieted spirit.” Job forgot to preach this to himself! In the previous chapter, Job calls out his friends by calling then “miserable comforters are you all” Job 16:2
Job even says that God hates him “God gives me up to the ungodly..” Job 16:11
But it’s what follows that we see some light, some relief for our dear brother Job “my witness is in Heaven and he who testifies for is on high.” Job 16:19
The eyes of faith are wonderfully opened, but know Job looks around and sees reality. “For when a few years have come I shall go the way from which I shall not return.” Job 16:22. But Job doesn’t stop there he continues “My spirit is broken; my days are extinct; the graveyard is ready for me.” Job 17:1. See! Job is a man who is tried, been tested beyond our ability to comprehend. (v1-v5) Job sinks in despair and he sees death as his family now, he sees the grave as his home. Darkness and death is the only thing that will comfort him.
What does hopelessness look like? This (v1)
Job says “My spirit is broken” I can’t take this anymore, I’m spent, and I’m ruined! I have no more fuel in the tank to continue on. This suffering has taken me to the limits and I cannot see anything pass the pain and the suffering, I’m a broken cistern.
Job says “My days are cut down” He is convinced that he was dying at an early age. His physical affliction was enough to kill him, and the icing on the cake was the harsh words of his dear friends and his wife.
Job says “The grave awaits me” Do you see the hopelessness in Job’s response? “My soul is ready to leave the body.” I’m ready to join the patriarchs; I’ve come to end of my life. As the sons of Korah wrote “For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength, like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.” Psalm 88:3-5
What we need to understand is this! Job has taken his eyes of the source of his hope. He is looking horizontal. These so-called friends “mocked” (meaning; their hostility, becoming mockers of his pain) drained Job of all hope with their despairing words of so-called wisdom. (v2). But it’s interesting that they speak this way to Job! Why? Job’s suffering disrupts the so-called theological worldview of the neat and tidy Christian life. That view that says “If you do good, you’ll be rewarded; only evil people suffer.” Think about it! If good people suffer than where is the security in life? If the innocent can suffer, then any one of them, and us, could end up like Job? This scares people to think that Christians can suffer. The longer Job suffers the more desperate Job’s friends become; as they try to validate their shallow theological view of suffering. See! If they can convince Job of sin then these three men, can relax in their shallow view of Scripture. But! Job’ suffering contradicts the notion that only bad people are to suffer. As we read in the opening chapter “And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Job 1:8
Suffering is a part of the Christian life;
a redeemed life involves a suffering life.
Listen to what Peter said “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:12-17
In Acts 14:22 we read “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
It’s in the suffering where we see God. It’s in the suffering where the child of God appreciates the gospel. It’s in the suffering where we feel the closest to God and His sustaining grace and mercy.
For suffering to make sense
we need to look to the Cross.
Psalm 91:1-2 says “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Unfortunately for Job, when we take our eyes off of Heaven and see reality; doubt and unrest find a home in your life to disrupt our biblical worldview.
These are the words of a broken man who has seen more than he can truly handle and his hope is slowly dwelling away.
This is exactly what the Accuser wanted.
To cures God and die.
To give up and die
What can we learn from this
portion of Job’s response?
Focus on God’s sovereignty and providence in your life.
God is and remains in control of your life, this is where our hope begins and ends. God controls the storms of your life, just as He directs the peaceful seasons in your life. Thomas Brooks said “Hope can see Heaven through the thickest clouds.” Know that God seated in Heaven and He has you exactly where He wants you to be. Despite the fact you would love to be somewhere else, doing or going through something differently. Remember what the Psalmist wrote “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Psalm 115:1-3. Even in the midst of your trial, God remains in charge, ruling and reigning over your life and the whole world.
Focus on God’s intimate closeness in your life.
God knows what’s best for your life, more than you do! I know that’s hard to believe. God is nearer than you think He is, though you cannot see Him or touch Him. If the truth was revealed in our hearts we at times think the same way Job’s friends do, and respond the same way Job did. What do I mean by that? We approach suffering in the same way!
“God would never do this to me? This has to be from the devil.” “What sin did they commit to be in this situation” Why would a good and glorious God allow
this to happen to one of His sanctified children?
That’s the question we ask or hear all the time, isn’t it? It just doesn’t make sense, right! I attend church , I read my bible, I pray, I give financially, I show people the love of Christ, I share my faith with others.
And He allowed this in my life?
No, this can’t be happening to me, it has to be something or someone else doing this!
Understand! As we go through seasons of suffering, our hope is strengthened by Him, as we endure, for His glory and our good. God does have a perfect plan for you and your suffering and what’s amazing about this is that He is with you all the way to bring you to safely through your difficultly. Paul said “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” 2 Cor 1:2-7.
God doesn’t waste our sufferings; God uses them so that we share and comfort others in their suffering. Reminding them of God’s goodness and mercy as they go through seasons of unexpected circumstances. God executes his sovereignty with perfect wisdom; God knows how to use this trial for your greatest good, because He is near.
Focus on God’s love that He pours out over your life.
When hard times come, it’s easy to blame God for our problems. Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, we are experts at passing the buck. The God who controls your storm, is also the God that loves you with a perfect love. When you are tempted to give up, remember how much God loves you. H. B. Charles Jr. says it this way “The peril of the unredeemed sinner is unbelief. The peril of the redeemed sinner is misbelief.” God has your best interest in mind despite what you think at this moment. As Steve Lawson said “God is like a surgeon who makes an incision only to heal, so God allows us to undergo his scalpel, but only for our good. God’s love is unchanging and is never stronger than when we are experiencing disappointment and pain.”
As James wrote in his letter to persecuted brothers and sisters “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:1-6
Hope is tough and you can't really halfway hope. Either you hope for something or you don't. Remember as you go through your season of suffering! Keep looking vertical to God’s sustaining grace and perfect love. Our God is good, and faithful, and gracious, and He loves to show those attributes to us; if we pay enough attention to catch them. I’m so glad that our hope doesn’t depend on my lack of hope in my circumstances; but on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. Remember God’s sovereign plan over your life, and remember God’s goodness and grace. As one theologian said “A good memory of the right things will keep you strong when hard times hit.”
Remind yourself of this truth that Paul said to his brothers and sisters as they faced great trials and tribulations “For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Cor 4:6-18