“My days have passed, my plans are shattered,
and so are the desires of my heart.”
~Job 17:11 (NIV).
God is as much at home in the darkness as God is owner and home of the Light. If this were not so, how could God be omnipresent; everywhere at the same time? The person in their unparalleled loss can know that God is there, right there in their darkness, with them.
Job seems to have lost his way—and many times this occurs as we look through the book after his name—but the very presence of his story is not to remind us of his flailing belief, but to restore ours by the very fact that if Job can struggle like Job struggled, so can we.
Grief Lasts But It Is Finite
Grief lasts... there could hardly be a truer turn-of-phrase, could there? There are we, then, in our pit, struggling and barely alive mentally, emotionally and spiritually, repeating over and again our stories of doom, and ever patiently does God ‘sit Shivah’ with us.
Grief always lasts longer than we wish it to.
But, as surely as it stings for longer than we’d like, the sting does have its use-by date; and we’re left afterward with only a significant memoriam to the loss—something never to be fearful of—that gives testimony to the importance of the event and what that part of our history actually meant to us, in every good way. The pain has finally given way to peace.
Notes of Betrayal
There is generally always a heavy note of betrayal played over our grief, and in Job chapter 17 Job has it in mind that God’s the one advocating the mess (see verses 3-4, 6). Most, if not all people, will struggle with God in these types of encounters, as right and wrong and wisdom and folly all seem indivisible in the mishmash of holy confusion and God seems to be nothing for us about it all (see verses 8-10, 12).
Hopes we hear, and they’re ever so near, but these hopes don’t pin themselves in the slightest to us, especially in the presence of cliché which Job heard plenty of; still, these are our days—from one day to the next—which come unannounced and booming through the doors of our hope for relent, destroying our hopes for a time.
Hope Out of Hopelessness
Perhaps hope shines through never more effectively as it knows and grapples with states of sheer hopelessness and then, after a time pending, still wins through, succeeding via faith.
To read Job 17—and much of Job for that matter—it’s easy to lose sight of the hope in the book. The greatest hope is that hopelessness is not the end game, and as darkness surrounds it, it merely beckons light, making room for it.
God is faithful in this. A loss is never wasted, nor is grief. There is a better form of light over the horizon.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.