It’s hopeless, I give up. This was a statement that our cross country coach didn’t want to hear. At the end of each race (3 miles mind you!), she wanted us to sprint the last 50-100 yards.
This desire was born out of two purposes: first to finish strong, second to pass a few people at the end. I can remember a few races where the next person up was forever away… but there was Mrs. Woods… “David, RUN!” In her mind, even a hopeless situation didn’t mean give up. Job has reached what he sees as a hopeless situation… and his desire is to give up.
The Book of Job is a primarily a book of speeches. It reads like a debate, where one speaker will present an argument, and then the next will offer a rebuttal and a new position. The three friends of Job each take turns, and Job responds to them. 2 of the friends give 3 speeches, and 1 gives 2. A 4th younger friend shows up at some point, Elihu, and offers the most sound advice in 4 consecuitve speeches with no rebuttals. These Elihu speeches give way to God showing up, and speaking His truth on the matter. The 3 friends speeches are all WRONG, and they give Job terrible advice. Their position is that Job has sinner, and is stubbornly unwilling to admit it. We know this isn’t the case, but their faulty logic helps reveal a character flaw in Job’s life which is set right by the end of the book… WHEW… Got it.
Job’s first speech is all about how he just wants to die. He is hopeless, broken, and wants it all to just be over. In response to Job’s helplessness, one of his “great” friends (sarcasm intended… read it sarcastically it helps!) the oldest of the 3, Eliphaz, speaks up. His speech has one main idea: Job you sinned, CONFESS. Though he probably meant well, Eliphaz only saw one cause of Job’s suffering: God’s judgment due to iniquity. Because in Eliphaz’s mind, God would never judge a righteous person. This logic was wrong, and still is wrong. Although much of Eliphaz’s speech is correct, it is misapplied to the life of Job.
In response to Eliphaz’s false accusations, Job feels hopeless and request that God would allow his life to end. Job says things like, “…it would please God to destroy me…”. His attitude is reminiscent of Elijah when he asked the Lord to kill him. Discouragement has eaten him up, and he has no will for life any longer.
This human nature, to give up, is very near sighted. When the child of God allows heavy trials to drive them to a fatalistic, hopeless place of suicidal thoughts, they are in danger. We know how the story of Job ends, but Job didn’t, and he wants out. What do you do when these emotions and this human nature kicks in?
Our sorrow, trials, and grief change dramatically when we have a functional relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. In opposition to human nature, the Christian faith, spurred on by a good relationship with the father allows us to: Pray in trials, Trust and have reliance on God’s sufficiency and knowledge (not a fatalist view, but a deistic view), and this ultimately leads to FAITH, a quite confidence that God is still in control.
Problems don’t go away, and sorrow is not wrong, but this is a drastic difference in emotional, physical, and spiritual posture. The response in trials is not hopelessness, but rather hope in the Lord seasoned with much prayer and faith.
If you are enduring trials and suffering now, allow the trying of your faith to be more precious than gold. Let it drive you to your knees, have a good cry, and trust deeper in the Lord than you ever have before. Trials may seem hopeless, but they can help us hope in Him more.
Daily Scripture Reading
Job 5 - 7
“Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”