Death, Life and Promises
“But when people die, their strength is gone. They breathe their last, and then where are they? As water evaporates from a lake and a river disappears in drought, people are laid to rest and do not rise again. Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep.”
“I wish you would hide me in the grave and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again! Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death. You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork.” (Job 14:10-15)
Life is short and full of trouble, Job lamented in his closing remarks to this first round of conversation. Sickness, loneliness, disappointment, and death caused him to conclude that life is not fair. Some understand Job 14:14-15 to mean that, even in his gloom, Job hoped for the resurrection of the dead.
The Old Testament does not say much about the resurrection of the dead. Job’s pessimism about death is understandable. What is remarkable is his budding hope (Job 14:14). If only God would hide him with the dead and then bring him out again! If only he could die and live again!
When we must endure suffering, we have an advantage over Job. Christ arose, and we have hope based on his promise in John 14:19. We know that the dead will rise.
Job’s profound speech in this section illustrates great truth: To have a right set of doctrines is not enough. To know what to believe is not all that is required to please God. Truth untested by life’s experiences may become static and stagnant. Suffering can bring a dynamic quality to life. Just as drought drives the roots of a tree deeper to find water, so suffering can drive us beyond superficial acceptance of truth to dependence on God for hope and life.
God’s solution to believers who live in an unfair world is to guarantee life with him forever. No matter how unfair your present world seems, God offers the opportunity of being in his presence eternally. Today, thank God for his love and presence now, and live by the understanding of the promises made to us for the resurrection to come.