Where Then Is My Hope?
If life were like television shows, every problem would have a clear cause and lead to a clear purpose; every mystery would have an explanation. The Bible is so much more real than fiction. Every problem does not have an obvious cause or a discernable purpose; and not every mystery is explained. Never is this more clear than when we are in the tempest ourselves, being tossed around by the circumstances of our lives.
As we have seen several times previously, Job’s friends assume that God could only be permitting these troubles to come into Job’s life if he had sin in his life. Their view of God’s justice is so small and neatly packaged that they find it impossible to think that a just God could allow such trouble in the life of a righteous man.
Each of us should respond to trouble in three ways initially: (1) commit yourself to the reality that God is sovereign over the issue and He allowed it in your life when He could have prevented it; (2) commit yourself to the reality that God is loving and yet allowed the trouble in your life for a loving reason, even though you likely cannot discern that reason now (and may never discern it); and (3) ask God to reveal to you the reason He has allowed it in your life, especially if He is trying to expose sin in your life. Often we will find that God is using it to reveal a new area we need to submit to His control. Sometimes, however, we will not discern any reason He has allowed it. These are the times when our faith and hope are most crucial.
We see this clearly in chapter 16. Job has examined his heart and found no reason for his trouble.
Job 16:15–17 (ESV) — 15 I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin and have laid my strength in the dust. 16 My face is red with weeping, and on my eyelids is deep darkness, 17 although there is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure.
His friends cannot accept this. Their view of God is too small. Job, however, knows that he is neither condemned nor acquitted by his friends, but by God. Thus he says:
Job 16:19 (ESV) — 19 Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high.
If Job accepted his friends’ version of a God whose justice is so neatly defined that trouble could not happen to a righteous man, and yet Job discerned no sin in his heart, then what hope could he have? This is what he is saying in 17:11-16. “Where then is my hope?” he asks. His answer we just saw in 16:19 – his hope is in God who will testify of his innocence. What an incredible statement of hope and faith in the midst of trouble! He is saying, “The same God who is allowing this affliction in my life and causing everyone to assume that I am a sinful man, will Himself bear witness of my innocence.” This is his hope.
If you are going through a dark time, is your view of God big enough to hope even when the purpose of your affliction is indiscernible? Do you have the confidence that is yours through a personal relationship with Christ that would enable you to say with Paul:
Romans 8:33–39 (ESV) — 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.