The Darkness of Despair
Loving Lord God, though I am unworthy, draw near to me now, I pray. I want to be with You.
Read JOB 14:1-22
 “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.  He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure.  Do you fix your eye on such a one? Will you bring him before you for judgment?  Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one!  Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.  So look away from him and let him alone, till he has put in his time like a hired man.  “At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.  Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil,  yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.  But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more.  As water disappears from the sea or a riverbed becomes parched and dry,  so man lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep.  “If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me!  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.  My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin.  “But as a mountain erodes and crumbles and as a rock is moved from its place,  as water wears away stones and torrents wash away the soil, so you destroy man’s hope.  You overpower him once for all, and he is gone; you change his countenance and send him away.  If his sons are honored, he does not know it; if they are brought low, he does not see it.  He feels but the pain of his own body and mourns only for himself.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat question haunts Job in this passage?
Job is suffering at every level imaginable and does not understand what is going on. Despite his friend’s bad advice, he knows he has to be honest with God about what he is thinking and feeling. This chapter expresses his turmoil and confusion and the deep questions he has about God’s love and care. Anyone who has experienced depression will recognize the deep anguish Job is describing.
We can be left fearful of God’s judgment after reading the early chapters of Romans. Job seems to be grappling with this very issue. On the one hand he wants to be left alone by God (3-6) and on the other he doesn’t want to be forgotten by God (13-17).
But even amid this despair, hope is not entirely lost. Job recognizes that even felled trees can spring to life again (7-9). Suffering of all kinds can lead us to dig deeper and find God’s presence. Job knew nothing of the resurrection and yet he yearns for it (14). What Job tentatively reaches for is the very thing that we can know with confidence: people can live again, because Jesus rose again!
If you or someone you know is in despair, bring those feelings to God. Ask for comfort and assurance.
Lord God, whenever I feel the darkness of despair, help me to hold onto the hope that only Jesus can bring.
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