The Book of Job-Chapter Fourteen:
A warning label should be placed on this passage: CAUTION TO ALL PEOPLE OF FAITH--GUARD YOUR HOPE. For what happens to Job here can and will happen to any of us. Despite beginning his recovery from personal turmoil and right in the middle of some real spiritual victories, Job has suddenly lost it:
Verses 1-12: "Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. And doth thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep."
What a hopelessness he has, too. It's the kind you not only hear about, and see, but almost can taste. The kind that pervades at some funerals. It's running deep too. He's not just testing out some new intellectual view of the state of mankind. It's way more personal than that. He's still talking to the Lord, he's kept his faith in God, but hope is missing:
Verses 13-17: "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands. For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin? My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity."
Unable to defeat Job in the faith area, Satan has zeroed in on the next best thing, his hope. In our day we need to shout this one from the housetops: CAUTION TO ALL PEOPLE OF FAITH--GUARD YOUR HOPE. Is this a stumbling block for us today? Certainly. I know I am subject to this problem and I think that as long as the enemy lives, believers will at times lose their hope. Have you misplaced yours lately?
And sadly (but very consistently based on all we've read about Job so far) he mistakes God for the thief:
Verses 18-19: "And surely the mountains falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place. The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man."
OK, Job - the enemy seems to say - Keep your precious faith, but try experriencing it without hope!
It may not sound so bad at first, but hope paves the way for us to love and to live life abundantly, to really live. Faith in the Lord is essential and provides our spiritual foundation, like the roots of a tree. Hope is more like the stems, branches, and leaves on that tree. Not as fundamental as the roots maybe, but absolutely necessary for health and production of fruit. If the enemy cannot destroy the roots, he is smart enough to attack these other parts. This strategy might not kill the tree completely, but will make it just as fruitless as if it were dead. There is nothing sadder in the Church than a believer who has been robbed of true hope. Lonely, bitter, with some skewed image of the Father and His Kingdom. Faithful, yes, maybe even fundamental, but fruitless and spiritually unstable. God's Love is the ultimate fruit in a believer's life. But it takes faith AND HOPE to receive and achieve it.
I guess I know more than Job did because when my hope falters, I generally realize that it isn't God's doing. Yet I usually have no idea exactly what has happened to me and may go on for a day or more before I discover that I'm not hoping in the Lord like I should. So I guess the Devil makes me look as foolish as Job anyway in the end. It's not that I loose my faith, but your faith can get sort of paralyzed. Even my thoughts can turn as rotten as Job's are now. What a terrible old war we are caught up in, beloved. Apparently, it's never been fought fairly either.
Verses 20-22: "Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away. His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them. But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn."
The Lord does not steal our hope. Today Christ the Lord is our Hope (see I Tim 1:1; Col 1:27; and many others). God did not destroy Job's hope. It was the work of the enemy. The truth is God has given us our only real Hope and restores it to us when we are seeking it. You and I need to be more than fundamental in the faith, we also need to be fruitful. We need the outlook and the vision that only Hope can bring, and you must also consider that a hopeless world is looking for a glimmer of hope in us--and sometimes so are our struggling brothers and sisters in Christ.
SO GUARD YOUR HOPE! It is intertwined with productive Faith. If you still don't see the connection, please check out my personal life verse in Hebrews 11:1. And may God encourage your heart as He does mine whenever I return to that verse and thought.
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