Have you ever been so discouraged that you didn’t think life was worthwhile and maybe not even worth living? I’ve only experienced that depth of despair, helplessness, and hopelessness a few times in my life. And most recently, it was when I was in so much pain from my back that I thought, “I can’t continue living like this.” Plus, it had been seven months of often-excruciating pain. Larry told me that the constant pain had added five years to my face. I agreed with him. I’m grateful that he could tell me recently that my face was looking younger now that the pain was decreasing.
When you’re feeling that low, it’s hard to see the hope that God offers. Just ask Job. In the 10th chapter of Job, he laments, “Why then have You brought me out of the womb? Would that I had died and no eye had seen me!” That’s pretty low. Not only does he not want to live any longer, he also doesn’t want to have ever lived! The whole chapter is filled with lament that only the greatest depression and pain would put on someone’s mind and onto their tongue. He believes that his life is no longer worth living or worthwhile as he sits on his ash heap scraping the puss from his oozing sores. If you want a real pick-me-up, be sure to read Job 10. NOT!
Then in Job 11, we find where our word “hope” is next located. The words are spoken by Job’s other friend, Zophar, who hasn’t yet made an appearance in the text other than introduced as one of the three friends who comes to “comfort Job.” He says in verses 17-19: (with the attitude of, “this would have happened if you hadn’t sinned” and “this will happen if you repent of your claim to not have sinned”):
“Your life would be brighter than noonday; (If you hadn’t sinned, bad boy!) my added comment
Darkness would be like the morning.
Then you would trust, because there is hope; (which you lack because you sinned, bad boy!)
And you would look around and rest securely.
You would lie down and none would disturb you,
And many would entreat your favor.”
Zophar’s words are powerfully true (even if his intent is skewed). He’s saying that hoping in God brings:
lightness –encouragement, prosperity, and glory
dispelled darkness—no longer believing lies and reaping discouragement
trust in God: believing God is God and can manage our lives
secure rest—calmly trusting in God’s plan
no disturbance from others—we don’t allow other people to spoil our trust in God and they are not our source, God is
favor with others—they will cooperate with God’s plan for whatever He wants to happen for us.
Praise be to God, those are true thoughts. Trusting in God brings those blessings. When we’re not trusting God, we’re like Job, despairing and having a hard time believing things will ever get better again.
Although I’m now far from the pain that created my hopeless feelings, I’m finding I must resist putting my hope into any progress I experience (IE I can finally take walks). On the days that my pain increases (and who knows why), my hope faints. “Now,” I think, “I’m going backward and all is lost. Woe is me! I’m doomed!” Then when the pain diminishes, I’m encouraged and full of hope.
Then God convicts me that I’m putting my hope in my symptoms rather than the solid rock of Jesus who knows exactly the progress (or lack of) He has for me. Then the lightness and hope and rest and not looking to others to confirm that I’m doing things right occurs. The darkness (of discouragement—in this case) leaves and trust in God returns. I’m no longer controlled by outward forces but by God’s perfect love and His plan for me. Keeping my eyes on Jesus brings hope because my sovereign Lord is in control of my life and He loves me!