“Obtaining A Living Hope”
I would like to introduce, or perhaps reintroduce or reacquaint us with a very unusual text. It was a statement made that very few people would have ever made given the circumstances this person found themselves in. It was Job.
Job 19:23-27 NRSV
23 “O that my words were written down!
O that they were inscribed in a book!
24 O that with an iron pen and with lead
they were engraved on a rock forever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer[a] lives,
and that at the last he[b] will stand upon the earth;[c]
26 and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in[d] my flesh I shall see God,[e]
27 whom I shall see on my side,[f]
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!
The Word of God for the Children of God. In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
These words are not what someone would normally say under such horrific circumstances. Not only did Job ‘suddenly’ lose everything that he had, all of his flocks and herds, but he also lost all of his children to a freak storm. Later, he was smitten with a horrendous disease of boils from the top of his body to the souls of his feet. And these were not little boils, but big huge form altering boils.
What we might say, to an extent, is that this man, Job, is where many people are suddenly finding themselves today in the midst of this current Covid pandemic sweeping the globe, as they are experiencing the loss of a job, finances, a place to live, their family, freedoms, and even their health, or the loss of a loved one.
But here’s the kicker, and what holds this life gripping story out amongst so many, and that is in the midst of these horrendous circumstances, Job not once had a “once in a lifetime” temper tantrum, criticized nor complained against his God. Instead, we see from our verse that he worshipped God through it all.
And when we take a considered look at what Job said, and understand its vast implications for us today, we wonder ‘how could he say this,’ especially seeing all the horrible things that happened to him and the adversity he had to endure, including his wife telling him to “Cancel his Faith” and “Curse God and die.”
But Job knew God, and knew the folly of criticizing and complaining against God even though everything had been taken away on the physical side of the equation. But what we see is that Job still possessed a faith and a hope that is far too often missing in our “cancel” culture and society, not to mention, church.
Today, too much of humanity places its living hope upon science and education, that these will in some way come up with the solutions to what has plagued our world since the beginning of time. But, reality is, in the end, all these things which humanity has pegged their hopes upon have come up severely, seriously empty, and it’s because all the scientists, philosophers, and educators have yet to find the cure for what plagues humanity, which is nothing less than death.
Except, Job’s hope was not placed in humanity’s solutions. Instead, Job’s only hope was in the Lord. Job knew death is the inevitable outcome of life, but he also knew this life isn’t all that there is to life. He knew that one day he would die, and that after death he would be in the presence of the Lord in bodily form.
Job 19:26-27 NRSV
Job knew he only had exactly one shot at this life, and when once this life was over he would stand before his God and give an accounting of the life he lived.
This is what the author of Hebrews brings forward saying, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27 NKJV)
Further, Job knew that this had nothing to do with his righteousness, how good he was, or if he had ever done enough good deeds to outweigh the bad ones, but rather he knew that it all had to do with his faith and his living hope in the Lord.
The Apostle Paul knew this same truth when he penned these words,
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
So, in the midst of his greatest personal tragedy, Job did something that most would never consider doing, and that is, he blessed and thanked God, having an abiding faith and an ever living hope, in Him and Him alone. And it was such a living hope and faith that saw Job return to health and even greater prosperity.
The anonymous writer of Hebrews wrote of this hope that the men and women of the Old Testament had as they went through horrendous times as well, and that, in and by faith. So, Why? So that they could “obtain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35 NKJV).
Consider what it says about Abraham; that he dwelt in a foreign land that was not his own, and by faith Abraham waited, “for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10 NKJV).
This man Job was able to handle the worst tragedies of life because he believed and hoped in the Lord. Therefore, he had this hope that even after his death that he would still see the Lord, not only in his soul and spirit, but also in his body as well. And for Job, this became his “pearl without price,” it became a living hope.
Matthew 13:44-46 ESV
The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
It is this same living hope that we can each have as well through the tragedies and disappoints of life. And this living hope only comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in what he did for us upon the cross, as He took our place and died our death because of our sins, and then on the third day rose from the dead. And it is this hope, that is the hope of the resurrection, that Jesus gives to everyone.
John 14:1-4 ESV
I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life
14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”[c]
And the reason we can implicitly trust our Living Hope in Jesus in this promise is because of what He went on to say just a few verses later;
John 14:6-7 ESV
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.[a] From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
It is this living hope that Jesus talked about, that through faith in Him we will likewise be raised up on that last day to be with Him.
“This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39-40 NKJV)
When we place the entirety of our lives into the hands of God and Jesus, and into the ministry and works of the Holy Spirit, we will never need to fear the pain and horror of being forever separated from Him. Nor will we ever have to worry about whether we are good enough. And here is the promise, that no one who places their faith and hope in Jesus would ever be lost, but have that living hope.
“We do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 NIV)
And then Paul ends saying, “Comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18 NKJV). It has been, and always will be God’s desire to comfort us in our darkest hour. Therefore, In inexplicable love, He sent Jesus to live among us and take our place and die our death; to be that perfect sacrifice for sin that we can have this assurance that we will be with Him for all eternity.
Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, had asked Jesus to come and heal their brother who is close to death. But Jesus did not come when they had asked Him to. So when Jesus finally arrived, the sisters asked why He did not come sooner when their brother was still alive so that he could then have been healed by Jesus, because they believed that if He did, then Lazarus would not have died.
Jesus, seeing their distress asked them if they possessed this same living hope that we saw in Job. He said, “Your brother will rise again.” And then He said,
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NIV)
He then called into Lazarus’ sealed tomb, and raised Lazarus from the dead, and after they unwrapped him, the very first face Lazarus saw was that of his Jesus.
It is when we make this our own belief; when we make this living hope that Job possessed that saw Him healed and restored, then abundantly blessed, when we make our own “being called out” our living hope, then we too, will see Jesus.
And this hope, this faith will bring to us new life, which will not only see us through this world full of “limitless” pain and sorrow, but it will also bring us into an eternity in the presence of a living Jesus where we will immediately see His smiling face when those death shrouds are remove from our eyes as well.
So why write and publish this devotional message? It is because it is my hope that everyone will find this same living hope for their lives. That through the losses we experience, loss of loved ones, health, finances, or whatever else these losses may be, that we do not have to grieve as those who have no hope.
Instead we can possess that living hope for our lives through faith in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, fully knowing that, with maximum assurance, when death inevitably overtakes our bodies, that we will be in the presence of Jesus.
This is brought out quite beautifully in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church.
“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:1-8 NASB)
And so, no matter what tragedy strikes, when tragedy strikes, how tragedy strikes, we can have this living hope, the same living hope which carried Job through a time of suffering that very few have ever, or if ever, experienced.
But that’s not all. There were a couple of other things which Job did which helped see him through these tragedies, and I would like to take this time to share them with you in order to help us strive to get through them as well.
1. Express Our Grief
Job expressed his grief through tearing his robe, shaving his head, and falling down to worship. These were acts performed by those who were experiencing grief. But then he went even further; he sat in the midst of ashes so everyone would know the immense grief he was going through.
We should not be ashamed or think that it’s a lack of faith to grieve our losses, and I am not just talking about death. There are other losses that we grieve as well, like the loss of our health, marriages, jobs, finances, security, freedoms, and even treasured possessions. Losses come in all sizes and shapes, and the normal response to these losses is that of taking the time to be in grieving.
But there is the blessing that Jesus gives to those who express their grief.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
Here is God’s promise that when we express our grief, that is, when we mourn, that He will comfort us through it. And because of that living hope, that is, the hope of heaven for those who believe, there is the comfort knowing that God will wipe away all our tears (Revelation 7:14-17, 21:4).
2. Acknowledge God is in Control
This was Job’s acknowledgment when he said, “Naked, I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:20-21). And at the end of his time spent with the Lord, Job made this same declaration that God is in control. (Job chapter 39 through 42)
It was such an acknowledgment that the Apostle Paul made as well.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Read Romans 8:28-39)
Knowing that God works all things out to the good brings me to the third thing we should do during these times of loss, and that is to look for the good.
3. Look for the Good
After it was all over, Job received blessings from the Lord, where it says that his latter days, that is, the days following his trials, were more than his beginnings (Job 42:12).
Far too often we get so caught up with what has happened that we do not take time to look around to see the good, and the good God is bringing into our lives.
To help, Paul gives us this bit of advise,
“I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV)
He was looking to the ultimate good that is available to all those who believe in Jesus Christ.
To bring this devotional offering to a conclusion,
The Bible’s idea of hope is very different from our normal thinking about hope. The world’s current thinking of hope is more like wishful thinking. Like, “I hope this or that will or won’t happen.” But this is not a living biblical hope.
A living Biblical hope is observed and experienced from what Peter says in 1Peter 1:13, “Hope fully in the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” To “Hope fully” means to be intensely desirous and 100% fully confident that Jesus Christ is coming again with grace and hope for his people.
Hope, is then the full assurance, and having complete confidence, that God is going to do good by us through our faith in Him, not only right here and now, but in the future as well as heaven awaits.
Therefore, we obtain that living hope by faith, and it is this living hope that has the power to change our lives.
And so, I would like to end where the Apostle Peter began.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5 NKJV)
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Let us take time to Pray,
Father I thank you for this day and breath of life in Jesus name
My father forgive me in any way I have allowed the trials of life to create a doubtful mind towards your resurrection power in me in Jesus name.
Heavenly father open my eyes to see beyond my trials so that I can continuously glorify you in all situations of life in Jesus name
Father increase my trust in you and let me always remember that you will never walk out on me in Jesus name
Heavenly father give me grace to live my life in a way that my trials will not draw me away from you but draw me closer to you in Jesus name
Lord help me to stand firm in you in my strength and weakness father put me on your shoulder in Jesus name
Father increase your fear in me so that my heart will continue to yearn for more of you in Jesus name
Thank you Jesus for answered prayers in Jesus name.