When Hope Seems Lost

During my quiet time this morning, my Bible reading took me to the book of Job in the Old Testament. Job was a wealthy rancher who owned thousands of sheep, camels, oxen and donkeys. God had blessed him with a wife and ten adult children. From the account, they were a close-knit family who met together on numerous occasions.

Though Job could have claimed responsibility for his success, he credited God with everything he possessed. His reputation for having a strong faith, gained the attention of his friends and even reached the ears of Satan. On a purposeful visit with God, Satan insisted that if the Almighty took his hand of protection from around his servant Job, the man would curse him to his face. He accused Job of trusting God solely because of the benefits.

God had such confidence in his servant that he allowed Satan to test Job. In one day, the wealthy man lost all his possessions, including his sons and daughters. Though Job grieved over his situation, the loss did not deter him from his faith and trust in God: “The Lord gave me what I had and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (1:21)

When removing his possessions didn’t break Job, Satan further tested the poor man with a terrible affliction of boils all over his body. The severity of the condition, caused him to sit among the ashes and scrape his skin with a piece of broken pottery. He’d lost everything, but his nagging wife who suggested he curse God and die.

Hearing of his suffering, his friends visited and commiserated with him for seven days without saying a word. Imagine a whole week of watching your friend suffer. Finally, Job broke the silence with a long discourse that he summarized by cursing the day he was born. The benefits of serving God had left him, along with any reason to live or to hope for the future. “Even a tree has more hope!” he complained. (14:7) Yet, amid all the difficulties, he refused to turn his back on God. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” (13:15)

When God finally answered his numerous complaints, he challenged Job to remember the One who created all things, including the man in question. The revealing conversation awakened Job to the realization of his ignorance concerning the all knowing, powerful creator of the universe. Who was he to question the wisdom and ways of such authority? Job repented of his arrogance and humbled himself in submission to Almighty God.

During the second half of Job’s life, God gave him more than he had before, including additional daughters and sons. The story reveals little about the first daughters, but the second three daughters were described as more lovely than any other in the land. These remarkable women received an inheritance along with their seven brothers.

In my debut novel, By the Sea, my main character, Alex, identified with Job when he felt tested to the limit. He preferred death over the pain and suffering in what he called “a miserable existence.” Have you ever been so disappointed with God that you preferred heaven to the struggles of life down here?

As with Alex and Job, we’re not exempt from trouble. Challenges too difficult to overcome often leave us depressed and discouraged. Our children disappoint us, the bills drain our bank account; our spouse finds someone more attractive; death knocks at our door and takes away those we hold dear; our friends accuse and forsake us; we lose our jobs. Though devastating, we don’t have to face life’s hardships alone. The same God whom Job trusted has promised to be with us through every trial. “Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)

If you feel abandoned by God, perhaps the two of you need a heart to heart conversation. Like Job, make your complaints known, bring him your burdens and disappointments, tell him your fears. Time spent in God’s healing, forgiving presence might be just the prescription necessary to restore your confidence and give you hope for the future.

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