For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. – Job 14:7But the mountain falls and crumbles away, and the rock is removed from its place; the waters wear away the stones; the torrents wash away the soil of the earth; so you destroy the hope of man. – Job 14:18-19My days are past; my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart. They make night into day: ‘The light,’ they say, ‘is near to the darkness.’ If I hope for Sheol as my house, if I make my bed in darkness, 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? Will it go down to the bars of Sheol? Shall we descend together into the dust?” – Job 17:11-16He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone, and my hope has he pulled up like a tree. – Job 19:10I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days. Let my enemy be as the wicked, and let him who rises up against me be as the unrighteous. For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts him off, when God takes away his life? Will God hear his cry when distress comes upon him? Will he take delight in the Almighty? Will he call upon God at all times? I will teach you concerning the hand of God; what is with the Almighty I will not conceal. – Job 27:6-11Behold, the hope of a man is false; he is laid low even at the sight of him. – Job 41:9
Let’s try to get some more context around these verses:
First, we see Job is talking to God in chapter 14. This continues from his first announcement of hope in chapter 13. We see Job making a comparison between a tree that’s cut down (and can re-grow) and a mountain that crumbles (it will not be rebuilt). He’s teeter-tottering with his emotions. He says in chapter 13 that he’ll hope in God, but here he’s implying that his life is like a crumbled mountain – never to be restored. So does he have hope or doesn’t he?
After this, Eliphaz responds and tells Job that the reason he suffers is because he doesn’t *really* fear God. If Job was devout, then he wouldn’t have any misery at all. Job responds first (chapter 16) by saying that his friends are horrible comforters. Then he tells them that if he gave up his will to live, then he would be truly hopeless. Job knows his days are short, but still he will endeavor to live them – even in the face of adversity.
Job seems to imply that he doesn’t have much hope, but the little that he does have is in God. This is in spite of Job’s belief in God’s sovereignty. Job believes it’s God who’s pulled all hope away – well, almost all. As Job notes in chapter 27, the godless really have no hope. Even thousands of years ago, a man understood that if there is no highest power, then there is no hope for something greater, something more, something other. Job wants all of this – something greater than his present circumstances. He wants something more than his life has given him. He wants something other than the lack of comfort he’s found here. And so, Job hopes only in God.
In a strange turn of events, God appears out of a whirlwind and confronts Job. His only direct mention of hope is that when a man is face to face with leviathan, all of his hope disappears. And yet God is greater still. God reprimands Job, but at the same time, He implicitly encourages him. How? He gives credence to Job’s hope in Him. “Job you were wrong to doubt. I AM here.”
And then God blesses Job. It’s not that Job earned God’s favor. He didn’t deserve blessing, but he received it anyway. God stripped all of Job’s hope away – to the very threshold of complete hopelessness – and forced him to hope only in the Creator. And his hope was not in vain.
God IS. And He is here with us. In trials, turmoil, and pain.
We should, like Job, hope in Him.