Read Job 14:1-2
"Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not."
• In spite of life's troubles, are you able to put your trust in God?
• Jesus knows there will be hardships and times when we wish we could go back to "safer" ground. During those moments, do you remind yourself that He is there for us? (Please explain.)
• Do you believe that He'll help us through the tough times? Do you trust that He can provide the inner muscle it takes to combat the outer pressure we feel? Why or why not? (Please explain.)
Job looked beyond his own troubles and turned his attention to the human condition. And his conclusions were anything but warm and fuzzy.
"Mortals born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble," Job explained. "They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure" (Job 14:1-2).
Talk about depressing!
By the end of the chapter, we find that Job's pessimism arose not from his doubts about heaven and the afterlife, but rather from what he saw as God's unwillingness to help him. His life had become a nightmare of pain and mourning, and yet the Lord seemed so distant and silent--not even offering the tiniest speck of encouragement.
So Job's conclusion should come as no surprise: "Life stinks. . .and then you die."
Is there any truth to how Job felt? Are all humans alone in their misery, helplessly adrift in a sea of trouble? The answer, of course, is a resounding no!
Romans 8:22-25 gives us plenty to think about--and to hope for: "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."
Let's "pause" the book of Job for a minute and "see" these verses in action.
In the next several paragraphs, we'll head out to the high seas and drop in on one of my (Michael's) favorite real-life dramas. This story takes us to the brink of disaster and reveals how faith, courage, and "hope for what is unseen" can guide us through any storm.
It's a treacherous journey, and the fleet of eleven ships is battered almost beyond repair. Even harder hit are the nerves of the crew.
"Has our captain gone mad?" yells a sailor.
"He'll end up getting us all killed," complains another.
"I say we turn around and go back!" insists a crewman.
Fear erupts on the decks. "Go back! Go back! Let's go back to the life we once knew."
But Hernán Cortés won't budge. He has amassed his battalion of 508 soldiers and 100 sailors and has set out on an important mission for the king of Spain: to explore the New World.
Cortés silences the crowd. "Gentlemen, we can't go back now. This is our destiny. We were made for this moment."
Then he reminds his men of the words he had printed on a banner: "Brothers and comrades, let us follow the sign of the Holy Cross in true faith, for under this sign we shall conquer."
It works. And soon the ships reach Mexico.
Yet Cortés doesn't rest. He knows that other storms are just on the horizon. So he quickly goes to work, disciplining his army, welding it into a cohesive force.
Then the famous conquistador does something that will be retold again and again in the history books: he orders his men to burn the ships. By doing so, Cortés actually saves the lives of his crew. Since the ships are so weather-beaten from the journey, returning to Spain would be risky. And by that single action, Cortés commits himself and his entire force to survival through conquest. It also ensures that they will keep their eyes on the New World, not on the life they left behind.
Lord, help me to know that You are with me even when I can't sense Your presence. Amen.