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Devotions for Life

A Matter of Death and Life

Job 13:20–14:22

Read
“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)

Reflect
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.

Respond
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 in hope for the resurrection to come.



Redeemed from Suffering

Job 19:1-29

Read
“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” (Job 19:25-27)

Reflect
Although Job struggled with the idea that God was presently against him, he firmly believed that in the end God would be on his side. He appealed directly to God (his witness and advocate, Job 16:19) and to God’s knowledge of his innocence. Job showed he had cast all his hope for any fair defense upon God.

What tremendous faith Job had: He thought that God had abandoned him and brought all these disasters upon him! Facing death, Job still expected to see God—and he expected to do so in his body.

When the book of Job was written, Israel did not have a well-developed belief about the resurrection. For Job, it seemed unlikely to him that, in his body, he would see God. But Job still declared, “In my body I will see God!” He was confident that God’s justice would triumph, even if it took a miracle like resurrection (see also Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2, 13).

Respond
Do you trust that God will make all things right even if they’ve all gone wrong in the present? Do you trust that even if things end in brokenness, God will raise them in glory? Spend time imagining your own resurrection and eternal life. How does it change your perspective about today?



Tried and True

Job 23:1-17

Read
“I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed.”

“But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food. But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.” (Job 23:8-14)

Reflect
Job continued his questioning, saying that his suffering would be more bearable if only he knew why it was happening. If he knew of a sin for which he could repent, he would! He knew about wicked people, and he knew they would be punished; he knew God could vindicate him if he so chose. In all his examples of the wicked in the world, Job’s overriding desire was for God to clear his name, prove his righteousness, and explain why he had received this calamity. Eliphaz had tried to condemn Job by identifying some secret sin that he may have committed. Here Job declares his confidence in his integrity and God’s justice. Job tried to make his friends see that their questions about God, life, and justice were not as simple as they assumed.

We are always likely to have hidden sin in our lives, sin we don’t even know about because God’s standards are so high, and our performance is so imperfect. If we put our trust in God, however, all our sins are forgiven because of what Christ did on the cross on our behalf (Romans 5:1; 8:1). And even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts (1 John 3:20). His forgiveness and cleansing are sufficient; they overrule our nagging doubts. The Holy Spirit in us proves that we are forgiven even though we may feel guilty. If we, like Job, are truly seeking God, we can stand up under others’ accusations as well as our own nagging doubts. If God has forgiven and accepted us, we are forgiven indeed.

Respond
Today, remember that you are forgiven. When you sin, confess it to God and ask for his strength to do better. He has already forgiven you.