Summary: A lesson from the life of Job about keeping our hope in the idst of seemingly hopeless situations.
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;–Job 19:25, 26
THE JOY OF HOPE
A good definition of hope is, “The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” As we move deeper into 2007, the hope that we had on January 1 may be a little less bright today than it was then. With new years come renewed hopes that things will be better in the future than they were in the past. But already, just 6 weeks into this year, there are many of us who are experiencing a loss of hope that things will indeed get any better. Loved ones have been lost, expectations have been un-fulfilled, relationships have deteriorated, confidences have been broken, disappointments have mounted one on top of the other. For many of us, hope is already dissipating; for many of us, we are already settling in to the same emotional and spiritual rut that we were in at the end of 2006.
But if that describes your situation, let me suggest something that may be of help to you in maintaining your joy: Your joy need not be dependent on circumstances. In the book of Habakkuk, the prophet gives a lengthy explanation of what’s wrong with his circum-stances and the circumstances of his people. He tells God that destruction and violence are before him and that strife and conflict abound; he says that the law is paralyzed and that justice never prevails; he says that the wicked hem in the righteous so that justice is perverted. Habakkuk goes on to complain to God that righteous and obedient servants like himself are made to suffer great affliction and humiliation, while unbelievers and heathens prosper at their expense and lord over them as rulers and dictators. And under such circumstances, it’s understandable that Habakkuk would have a hard time maintaining his hope. But in response to his complaint, God says two things: He says that circumstances will get worse before they get better. But God also says that at the appointed time, He will rectify the situation. And even though the circumstances didn’t change, Habakkuk’s hope was revived because he knew that God had heard him. I hear him say, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my Strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.”
For a lot of us today, our lost hope is because we’re depending on circumstances, which are things that are out of our control. But for those who are in Christ, we know that our hope transcends our circumstances, for our hope is in the one who controls all circum-stances. And even when circumstances aren’t what we want them to be, we can maintain hope in the One who holds us and all circumstances in His hands.
But then, we would also suggest to you that God should not only be the source of our hope, but He should be the object of our hope. For Habakkuk, God’s reassurance was the source of his hope, but in our text today, we see God serving as the object of hope for a man named Job.
Most of us know Job’s story. He was a man who seemingly had everything and lost it all. The Bible describes Job as a blameless and upright man, one who feared God and shunned evil. And because of his devout character, God had greatly blessed Job. He was extremely wealthy and he enjoyed a wonderful progeny–7 sons and 3 daughters. He had a fine home and a loving wife. But in a moment, all of those things were gone.
The Bible says that God, for His own reasons, permitted Satan to take away from Job those things the God had blessed him to enjoy. In one moment, Job lost his wealth; in a second moment, he lost his children; in a third moment he lost his health; in a fourth moment, so-called friends came and falsely accused him of some unrepented sin; in a fifth moment his wife had renounced him and rejected him.
Church, that’s the way life is. One moment, everything may be fine, but in the next mo-ment, your world may be turned upside down. That’s why you can’t get too caught up in the moments of your life, you have to take the whole thing into account. If your entire life were measured by your worst moments, then there would be no reason to ever have any hope. If your entire life were measured by those times when you weren’t at your best, then you could never have any hope. And you know, I’ve found that there are people who want to judge your life by your worst moments; there are people who want to label you a failure because they’re only looking at your worst moments. And I’ll be the first to admit that my life doesn’t look too good if all you consider are my worst moments. At my worst, I’ve said things I shouldn’t have said and done things I shouldn’t have done and thought things I shouldn’t have thought. At my worst, I’ve let conditions so get to me that I broke down and cried. At my worst, I’ve let conditions cause me to even question the fairness of God. But I thank God today that while man measures life by your worst moments, God will cause you to see things from a different point of view. When Job faced his worst moments, the God in Job caused him to have a different perspective. He didn’t look at his life from a moment-by-moment perspective, but he did an all-encompassing account of his relation-ship with God to that point. And when he did a survey of the whole situation, he said, “Naked, I came into the world and naked shall I leave. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”