We meet again! Another Thursday, another new blog – hot off the press!
Today we have the privilege of sinking into the words of my dear friend Rachel Wightman… she has previously guest blogged for me here (a fantastic article), and I feel rather honored that she said “yes” to blogging for me again! Thanks, Rachel!
Rachel and I have been friends for almost a decade… (I wanted to say it like that not only because it’s true, but because it’s supremely bizarre that it’s already been so long!!) We studied at Central Bible College at the same time and served together on the pastoral team at Transit in Seattle before we followed our individual calls elsewhere. Rachel is one of those rare, valuable, and exquisite people who unpretentiously shapes culture and exudes kindness, and I am undeniably better from her influence.
Grab your morning cuppa’ tea and cozy next to your fireplace for a good read – you are in for a treat.
“Yet I will hope in Him.”
Ironically, Job is probably my favorite book of the Bible. I say ‘ironically’ because I am typically a “sunshine, flowers, and cupcakes” sort of girl. If you are not familiar with the tone throughout the book of Job, let me just tell you, it is not a sunshiney one. It’s the exact opposite. It’s a rather depressing book on the whole.
Here’s a quick context of this particular verse. Thus far, Job has been through a lot of rough stuff. I am not talking like “a rough, Monday, stuck-in-traffic-without-coffee” kind of rough. In the first few chapters of this book, Job loses everything. Or so it would seem: kids, land, servants, health, and livestock.
In chapter 13, we find Job in the midst of a heated debate with his friends, trying to figure out why God has chosen to “strike” him. Job continues to insist that he has been an integrous, God-fearing man and that there is no reason that God should have chosen him to afflict so terribly. His friends have a slew of opinions – none of which line up with his – but at any rate, they cannot collectively seem to get to the bottom of what might be going on in Job’s life.
This is an age-old question. From the time of Job until today, a common question for those who believe in Him and even those who don’t has been, “WHY GOD!”
“Why did you take my (fill in the blank)?”
“Why did I have to lose my job?”
“Why did I get cancer?”
“Why am I still so lonely?”
“Why did you bring me here?”
Despite the circumstances, where a person is from, or what century they are living in, everyone poses this question at some point. Perhaps it will be muttered in despair, screamed out of anger and frustration, or snarled sarcastically out of doubt for His existence at all. Every story is very different, but the question raised is universal and one that needs to be addressed.
This is one of the reasons I love the book of Job so much. Job’s story gives us insight into this question and frustration that plagues humanity. In our own finite, human thinking, we would love a formula for everything: If A, then B. We, like Job, would like to think that if we live the godliest life we can, then He will continually favor us and bless us. Rather than blessing and favor, God seems to be pouring out curses and suffering. This does not compute. And what’s worse, God does not seem to be even answering the question, let alone letting up.
What Job cannot see is God is at work in the whole “mess.” In the opening chapter of Job, Satan and God have a conversation. Satan is looking to cause trouble, and God has a rather creative comeback. He brags on His servant Job, sure that no matter what comes his way, he will never stop serving Him. So, Satan puts this to the test and gets right to it. More importantly, God allows it.
By chapter 13, clearly Job is beginning to feel hopeless. He is frustrated and possibly doubting why He believed so deeply in his God to begin with. He is crying out to Him, desperate for a response, any response. He’s certainly not at his best when he states the words contained in this verse, which is exactly what makes them so profound.
“Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15, ESV).
Another version reads, “Because even if He killed me, I’d keep on hoping” (MSG).
And the King James Version reads, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
This statement is two-fold for Job. First, he is standing his ground with his friends and family that remain. They have been telling him in so many words to leave this God and this faith behind because certainly it’s not worth it. But here Job is saying, “God can do whatever He wants to me. He can make things so much worse than right now – He can even kill me if He wants – but even that would not keep me from trusting and hoping in Him.” What’s profound about this is Job’s depth of faith. Job does not hope and trust in a God who only favors and blesses him, Job hopes and trusts in a God who is exactly who He says He is. Job’s faith is rooted in God’s character. That’s it. In essence, Job is saying that even if God does not seem to be just or kind or compassionate towards him, He still is simply because He says He is. The other side of this statement is rather inspirational. Job is also making a standing for the life he has lived. He’s willing to meet God face to face and to argue his case before Him because his conscience is clear. What a powerful example of a godly life. Of course Job is not saying that he is perfect or sinless, but simply that he is confident that he has led a life that would honor God to the best of his abilities, and even if God did choose to end his life and he were to meet with Him in that moment, he could still hope in Him as he always had because God would find no reason to look away from him.
Let’s apply this to our own lives.
We are human. Our perspectives will always be limited. Despite how frustrating it is, we won’t ever be able to see things from God’s angle unless He decides to let us. He is bigger than us. He was here before us and He will remain long after us. Therefore we must trust Him despite… Despite all else, we must hope in Him. And beyond that, we must trust that whatever He allows to come our way has passed through him first and is only for our good and ultimately for His glory. We don’t get to see that opening chapter of Job or hear the conversation God may have had with Satan regarding us, just as Job also could not. But based on Job’s story, we can rest assured that no scheme or plan of Satan is going to touch our lives without first passing through the approval of our almighty God. And since we know that He is all good and just and righteous and endlessly gracious and loving, we can also rest assured that whatever passes through Him to us is out of a loving heart that wants us to become everything He has created us to be and at any cost.
In the end, God richly blesses Job many times over what he had started out with and lost. Job was able to see God’s immense blessing and favor in his life because he was willing to hope in Him against all odds. Even if Job had died in the midst of that awful season, he still would have seen God’s blessing and reward waiting for him after this life.
And so it goes for us. Despite what comes, despite what God seems to be from our angle, our hope must remain anchored in the God who is exactly who He says is 100% of the time. If we hold onto that truth and put all of our hope in it in this life and beyond, we too, like Job, will see the unfathomable reality of God’s character.