Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Job 16-17 (Pt 3)

Job 16:22 (ESV)
[22] For when a few years have come
I shall go the way from which I shall not return.

Job is realizing how short life is. He has almost lost hope. He feels like he is standing on the edge of the grave. It reminds me of Jacob’s words to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life” (Genesis 47:9).  “Few and evil” describes life. When a person is young, 50 or 60 years sound like an eternity. You turn around and realize you are 50 or 60 and wonder how you got there. Life is short.

In pondering how quickly life spins past us we can respond in one of two ways. Paul writes, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’” (1Cor 15:32). If there is no resurrection; if there is no hope beyond this life, then we respond to the brevity of life by saying, “We need to have as much fun as we can before we get too old to enjoy life.” We need to go for the gusto before we end up like Job and cannot enjoy life anymore. We need to see all the sights, live all the experiences, and do all the things we’ll regret never having done. That’s one response to the brevity of life. Reading Job’s words one might come to that conclusion.

Job 17:11, 14-15 (ESV)
My days are past; my plans are broken off,
the desires of my heart.

if I say to the pit, ‘You are my father,’
and to the worm, ‘My mother,’ or ‘My sister,’
where then is my hope?
Who will see my hope?

But there is another way to respond to the brevity of life. It is what Job clung to all along. It is what many in pain, suffering, or difficulty have come to embrace. That is, no matter what life sends our way, we need to trust God. We need to embrace Paul’s perspective.

Philippians 1:21-23 (ESV)
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Job’s perspective on life seems to be slipping, yet he trusts God. Looking at life through the lens of the present he is beginning to wonder what value his commitment to God held. He was faithful, yet here he is standing on the threshold of death, living in pain every day. What is the point of that? Of course, what Job could not see was how God would use his story to encourage people to faith for thousands of years after Job was gone. Job could only see the present. He could only feel the pain. He could only live the grief. But he could trust.

He deeply desired to understand why he was facing such difficulty in life. He deeply desired to argue his case before God. He was overwhelmed by the lack of future from his perspective. Yet God had not abandoned him. All his earlier service and dedication had not been forgotten and it had not been in vain. When life is all there is, we opt for, “Let’s party for tomorrow we die.” When our perspective is centered on Christ, we realize that we have all of eternity to experience life. We have but one short life to prepare for eternity. That changes everything.

1 Corinthians 15:19-21, 54b (ESV)
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

For the believer, “Death is swallowed up in victory,” and “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” are much better slogans for life than “Go for the gusto.” Our time on earth is short. Our bodies will fail us. Life will disappoint us. We will never experience everything there is to experience or see everything there is to see. But we can live life to its fullest for the glory of God and never regret a day. How will you live your life?

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