By David Faust
• “If a word in the dictionary were misspelled, how would we know?”
• “Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks?”
• “What’s another word for thesaurus?”
• “How young can you die of old age?”
In the midst of his suffering Job asked some thought-provoking questions too, but his questions were the serious inquiries of an earnest and searching heart. He lived centuries before Jesus walked the earth, so we have an advantage: We can read the New Testament and see the Son of God’s answers to many of our toughest questions. Job’s spiritual puzzlement focused on two key issues: despondency about the purpose of life and curiosity about life after death—subjects Jesus addressed head-on.
Does Life Have a Purpose?
Job’s agony was so intense, he wondered if it might have been better if he had never been born. He asked the Lord, “Why then did you bring me out of the womb? I wish I had died before any eye saw me. If only I had never come into being, or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave!” (Job 10:18, 19).
Job cynically observed, “Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble. They spring up like flowers and wither away: like fleeting shadows, they do not endure” (14:1, 2). He continued, “At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. . . . But a man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more” (14:7, 10).
Fortunately for us, Job’s Ecclesiastes-like observations are not the Bible’s last word. According to Jesus, our lives have incredible worth; the Father in Heaven even counts the hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:29-31). Jesus’ own life was like a kernel of wheat that fell to the ground “dead,” but in the process it ultimately produced many new “seeds” (John 12:24). Christ infuses life with purpose now and forever. Even when we suffer, we have his assurance, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Is There Life After Death?
Job probed deeper. Even if he could discover a valid purpose for human life, time here on earth seems so short. What about when this life ends? Is there reason for hope beyond the grave? Job asked, “If someone dies, will they live again?” (14:14).
The quest for life after death has always been a longing of the human heart, and it’s a puzzle that seems unanswerable without a direct word from the Creator. And that’s exactly what we find recorded in the Gospels—words of assurance and hope from the lips of Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25). Jesus guaranteed the validity of his promise by rising from the dead himself, in the process offering us “new birth into a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).
Life is filled with tough questions, especially when we suffer. But because of Jesus’ promises and his victory over death, we have solid reasons to trust in God both now and forever. And we can say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (13:15a).
1. Have you personally asked the kinds of questions Job asked about life and death?
2. How does it encourage you to see Jesus’ answers to the questions of Job?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
The Lookout.’s Bible Reading Plan for November 11, 2012
1 John 2:12–17
Ezekiel 29, 30
1 John 2:18–23
Ezekiel 31, 32
1 John 2:24–29
Ezekiel 33, 34
1 John 3:1–10
1 John 3:11–18
Ezekiel 38, 39
1 John 3:19–24
Ezekiel 40, 41