Hope · Weekend Word Devotions

Weekend Word: When Hope is Hard to Grasp

[Today’s devotion on hope is a part of the Weekend Word devotional series. Come back every Saturday for fresh insights on God’s Word, or follow my blog via email or WordPress to get my content sent straight to your inbox.]

Read: Job 29:1-6

Today’s Scripture: 3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:3-5, HCSB).

“This hope will not disappoint us . . . “ 

Again, I was struggling. Again, I was sinking into depression. Again, I couldn’t see a future for myself.

Again, again, again.

It felt unrelenting. Many times, it still does.

In those moments, hope feels fleeting. It’s difficult to grasp. Difficult to hold on to.

Maybe you feel a similar way.

During the afflictions, the trying times, and the suffering, it’s hard to see how it all could possibly work out. You’re treading water in a violent ocean, but you’re barely staying afloat. You wonder when you’ll finally be able to rest.

You may wish for “the good old days” — the happier times where everything was coming together for you. Where it felt safe.

So did Job.

In Job 29, Job gives his final defense to the friends who were accusing him of wrongdoing, the friends who were insinuating that Job’s suffering was his fault.

If you’re familiar with Job, you know that the beginning chapters of the book bearing his name tell us that he was a righteous man (Job 1:1). And he was prosperous.

When tragedy struck and Job lost everything, he never once cursed God. Many of us are familiar with his famous line: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:20b, NIV).

While Job was a righteous man who chose to worship God in his suffering, Job struggled deeply with what had happened to him. In Job 3, he laments the day he was born. In chapter 16, he feels as if God had made him into His target (Job 16:12). When we get to chapter 29, we find Job wishing for “the good old days” where he felt intimately close to God. And on top of his suffering, Job’s unempathetic friends were no help.

If you’ve read all the way through Job or have heard the account of his life before, you also know that at the end of it all, Job receives a double blessing from God. Everything he had lost and more was restored to him.

But in the midst of his suffering, Job didn’t know that.

He didn’t know that his life would get better. He didn’t know that God’s blessing would shine on him again. He didn’t know that God would rebuke his friends for being insensitive.

Suffering can lead to despair. And that despair makes it difficult to see how things will work out. We feel trapped and alone. God feels distant. Perhaps it seems like He’s uncaring.

But according to Romans 5:3-5, suffering (rendered “afflictions” or “tribulations” in some translations) can also lead to hope. In suffering, we gain endurance. Through endurance, we build character. And character produces hope. Hope that rests in knowing that God takes care of His beloved children.

Sprinkled throughout the book of Job are glimpses of this hope. Job bounces often between hope and despair. He said, “My spirit is broken” (Job 17:1a), but he also said, “I know that my redeemer lives” (Job 19:25a).

In your suffering, you may have a difficult time seeing hope. You, like Job, may bounce between hope and despair. In times when that hope is hard to grasp, remind yourself that God is working all things out for your good (Romans 8:28). Remind yourself that this suffering will produce endurance, which will produce character, which will produce hope.

And God’s hope will never disappoint you.

You can’t see the outcome. But God has already written it. He will take care of you.

Today’s thoughts: Have you had a difficult time holding onto hope? Does the ending of Job’s story encourage you? What does it mean to you that God’s hope doesn’t disappoint us? How might that help you keep pushing through in trying times when you can’t see how it will all work out?

I’ve written more about holding onto hope using my own personal story. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out here.

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