Our next sighting of the word “hope” is in Job 7:6: “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, And come to an end without hope.”
This time there’s not much hope around the word hope, because Job, who speaks those sad words is wrapped in a mantle of despair. For the whole chapter of Job 7, he rails against God in his pitiful state of hopelessness. He has lost his self-control and faith that he first exhibited in Job 1:21 when after losing everything, he exclaimed, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
To what can we attribute Job’s change of heart from hope into hopelessness? I think one of the keys is found in Job 7:11 when Job says,
“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit,
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
Job lost his self control over his mind and his speech. He stopped “restraining” himself to focus on the truth of hope in God. He lost what 2 Corinthians 10:5 talks about, “we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” He allowed his mind to receive and focus on that which isn’t in obedience to Christ. He lost his hope and faith. Like a cow chewing its cud, he twirled around in his mind his grievances and his pain.
It’s easy to do. As I’ve gone through this journey of chronic back pain for seven months, I’ve lost hope at times. I couldn’t get my mind off my pain. It consumed me and I wondered how long I’d have to suffer. I’m grateful that I didn’t slip into “Why me, God?” I did wonder “What is the purpose?” And I thought, “I don’t know if I can continue to do this. How do people live with chronic pain?”
And yet I thought of people I knew and those who serve God even while suffering with chronic pain. In God’s power it is possible. We have no guarantee of life without pain. But we can live with hope in the midst of it.
Job gives us the key to hope in the midst of pain. When he was still focusing on the Lord, he did something that will help each of us keep our hope. After hearing of all the disasters that took everything and everyone he ever loved, his diary reads, “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped.” (Job 1: 20 NASB).
That’s the key: worship. Acknowledging God is God and we aren’t. Worshiping is rejoicing in who God is and His wonderful qualities. Reminding ourselves that He is wise, gracious, majestic, and so much more. Worship is making a choice, taking every thought captive to believing the truth: even in the midst of pain, God is good and everything He does and allows is intended for our good and His glory. It may not be pretty but it’s life on earth short of heaven. There is always hope.
PS Here’s a fun way to worship. Go through each letter of the alphabet and find a quality of God that starts with that letter. For instance, for “A”, you could say able, active, almighty. For “B”, you could say beautiful, bountiful, etc. As you praise and worship God in prayer, you can go through the alphabet doing this saying, “Oh, Lord, you are able, bountiful, caring, determined, etc.”