Archive for December 17th, 2012

Awaiting Our Renewal

December 17th, 2012

If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! …If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made. Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin.

Job 14:13-16

Anyone who reads the prayers of Job listens to a man’s tormented cry erupt from his soul, yet the amazing thing to me about Job is that he never lost faith completely. He wavered – who would not in his situation – but his faith never collapsed. In the crucible of suffering, as the situation heated up far beyond the boiling point, his faith never evaporated entirely, and where there is faith in God there is still hope.

Job asked one of the most profound questions of life: “If a man dies, will he live again?” Yet he answered the question with the next breath, that his renewal will come. His confidence in this was based on the desire of God for His creatures, namely for human life.

Job’s suffering had stripped him of confidence in himself. His friends plied him with questions, assuming that, according to the common notion of the day, his suffering was because of something wrong he had done. They urged him to repent of his hidden sin, and they identified what they though were several unassailable arguments for this logic:

Job 4:7: The innocent do not perish

Job 8:3: God does not pervert justice

Job 11:11: God punishes deceitful people

Job 15:10: The wisdom of the ages confirms this

The problem with all of this is that this human philosophy does not take sin seriously enough. Certainly often times our suffering is due to our sin, but not always and not wholly. The reality of sin is that innocent victims abound in this life.

We humans have the temptation to judge another when we see him suffering. We might hear, for example, of someone losing his job. He protests that his firing was unfair and we express sympathy toward him, but in our hearts we doubt his innocence. We think just like Job’s friends did, I wonder what he did wrong? We see someone suffer physically and we suspect that they had just neglected their health. Or we hear of someone’s spouse leaving them and think, I guess he was hard to be married to. And we do all of this while feigning sympathy. We forget that in this world sin means that bad things can happen to good and innocent people.

Faith, if it is to be biblical, must rise above these worldly notions, and stand on the promises and wisdom of God. Job’s did! When he could not reason his way passed his problems, he grasped and held tightly to the promises of God for eternity. He believed that the troubles of this world would one day pass and he would stand in God’s presence fully redeemed. His faith focused on the end result of God’s grace – our full redemption – and did not become bogged down in the muddy mire of this temporary life on earth. In God’s ultimate full and complete redemption he found his hope and he worked backwards from that ultimate point to experience comfort in his present situation.

As believers in Christ, one day we will stand in the presence of God fully renewed, with every temptation and every problem removed. We will stand there because of God’s grace in Christ Jesus. So long as we are on this earth we will experience difficulty and tribulation, but Christ has overcome the evil one and will be victorious over all who opposed Him. This reality should give us hope today. He is not powerless in this physical world, but the fullest insight into His power is only grasped by those who focus their thoughts and affections on the ultimate conclusion. Once we grasp the end, once we understand our eternal position in Christ, then we find His comfort available for us in this world. He is preparing us for eternity.

Jewels from Job , , , ,