Friday, March 6, 2009

The Pit of Despair

Lashing out brings satisfaction at its fastest fleeting. Job went from frustration to desperate hope rather swiftly in chapter 16, but in chapter 17, despair set in pretty fast. He saved the most heartbreaking question for last, when he asked if hope would die and descend into the afterlife right along with him.

Excuse my French, but I've been quoted as saying, "Hope is a whore." She's always available to anyone who will have her. But how many times have you seen your dreams dashed and, as the clouds of reality dust settle back down to the ground on which you lay flat, watched hope saunter off into someone else's wistful delusions? Hope can be a breath of sweet, clean air or the tantalizing whiff of a menacing carrot. Hope is a ray of light one minute, a complete mirage the next. You can't spell hope without ho. The same is also true of . . .

However, hope . . . genuine, pure, unadulterated hope . . . is real and it is spectacular. I don't have a life verse, but I think this passage in Romans (5:1-5) is my favorite:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Now, I know the first half of that passage is oh so New Testament and therefore of very little intuitive help to Job. But not the second half. No, Paul was speaking very generally there about hope and suffering. Suffering makes you persevere! Perseverance builds character. And it is character, not weakness or foolishness or denial or simple brain-addled lunacy--no, it's character that produces hope. 

Hope isn't just the currency of desperate Cub fans (although it most definitely is that, I assure you). Hope is the stuff of weathered, emboldened, deeply scarred heroes who hold true to the only One who hasn't changed, the only One worth pursuing, the One who didn't turn away from Job despite his objections . . . the One who has suffered.

So yeah, today, Job suffered to the point of despair, and tomorrow he received no relief. And the answer to his question is, Yes. Hope would descend along with him to the gates of Sheol and right on through into the darkness. What Job didn't know was that even after death, Hope wouldn't let go of Job. And, with Job in tow, Hope would rise again.


  1. Well written my friend. This would make a great forward to a book...a collection of short stories of people who were able to escape that pit of dispair...where there truly was no hope in the natural. Thanks for sharing & may the Lord bless you in all that you set your hand to do for His glory.

    Liz Hickman

  2. I apologize for taking over a month to get back to you, but thank you so much for the compliment. That means a great deal to me.


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