All Roads Lead to Jesus - Job

Reading - Job 19

Grief is a lesson in patience and a test of endurance. It never goes away. There is no way to move on from grief. There are only ways to manage it as we wait for it to be fulfilled through redemption. We may see short bursts of redemption of our grief in this life, but it never actually goes away. At least, it doesn’t go away in this lifetime. But I sometimes wonder if grief will go away in the next life.

I used to think that grief would “go away” when Jesus returns. But I am not so sure that is entirely true as I read the Scriptures. I always wondered if God would just wipe our minds clean when we are in heaven. But I don’t think that is how God works. God did not wipe the minds of Adam and Eve clean as one age of perfection closed and a new age of sin came upon the earth. Adam and Eve remembered and longed for the Garden. We don’t have the experiential memories of Adam and Eve of that perfection, but we certainly have the innate longing for an unbroken world.

There is a story in the middle of the Bible that is all about grief. Job was a righteous man with a great reputation and immense wealth. He had a giant family that enjoyed being together and throwing feasts together. One day, he lost it all. He lost his riches, his houses, his livestock, his children, his health, and his reputation. At the end of the story, and after battling through his grief, Job is restored. He receives back more wealth than what he had before, more children and a new family.

Every time I read this story; I am left longing for something - Job’s children. Now that I am a dad, I feel especially unfulfilled at the end of Job’s story. I believe we are meant to be left with a longing for something more.

In ancient history, the gods were magnificent and powerful beings. They were the avenues in which mankind could explain natural phenomena in supernatural ways. They were the constellations in the sky, the sun rising and setting, and the planets circling the earth. They were angry and controlling and needing to be appeased.

But the God that Job encountered was something more. The God of Job was indeed Creator. He had been there from the beginning and was the cause of all things. Job says that His God was wise, sovereign even over the horrible things that had happened to him, forgiver of sins, sometimes He is hidden and other times He thunders from the heavens, He is perfectly righteous in all that He does, His holy-otherness and majesty are unfathomable, He is to be revered and He is to be feared, and God is also…accessible?

Job had lost everything. His wealth, his family, his livelihood, and his standing in the community. He had always been a righteous man and his reputation was known throughout the region. Yet now, it seemed like he was cursed. As Job is walking the road of grief several friends try to comfort him. They each have their own idea as to why Job was suffering and they were not afraid to share it. Maybe he had sinned? Maybe God was teaching him some kind of lesson?
In the middle of the story, Bildad, one of Job’s friends, reminds Job that God punishes the wicked. Bildad doesn’t come right out and tell Job that he is being punished. Instead, he is passive-aggressive with Job. Bildad describes what happens to the wicked which mysteriously sounds like everything that has happened to Job. Do you have a friend like that?

But Job is no fool. He knows exactly what Bildad is saying and he knows exactly who Bildad’s arrows are aimed toward. Job responds with one of the most famous passages in Scripture. Job cries out that everyone has left him. Every human being has rejected him. His friends are condemning him without knowledge and passing it off as wisdom. His relatives have either died or have shunned him. Even his wife has abandoned him. He is utterly alone in his grief.  It is at this point of abandonment that Job says, “Even in the midst of all of these things, I know that my Redeemer lives and that he will stand on the earth.” Though God is transcendent, he is also imminent.

The same God who has created all the earth and who’s sovereign hand is at work, is the same God who will stand on the earth. The same God who is holy and transcendent is also close and imminent. The same God who sits in glory will condescend and leave His holy throne in order to redeem Job and the earth. This is Job’s hope and it is your hope too.

Job did not get to see the fullness of the glory of God. He experienced just a taste of it when his wealth was restored, and he was able to begin anew with more children. However, his restoration was not complete. His dead children were not restored unto him and his new children were not replacements for what was lost. Even in the final words of the story of Job, there is sadness and grief. Even as things are made new, we get the feeling that they are not completely new. This new day would come later.

When Jesus ministered on this earth, he gave us just a taste of what it would be like to live in a new heaven and earth. Every time he healed someone or raised someone from the dead, the people saw just a glimpse of redemption. He continued to promise his disciples and those that would come after him that they would have a part in this new kingdom. But then Jesus died. Like Job, the dreams of the disciples had been ripped apart. Redemption seemed far off. It wasn’t until Jesus rose and the disciples saw him, that they began to understand what redemption meant, what kingdom life would be like, and what the full plan of God’s Gospel was for them and the world.

Jesus’ resurrection not only gave credence to Jesus’ claims about his deity, but it also gave us absolute assurance that the Kingdom is what Jesus said it would be and that the Kingdom’s victory is assured. We can be absolutely sure that Jesus is coming back to make all things new. We can be absolutely sure that the same Redeemer who paid for our sins on the Cross is the same Redeemer who is coming back to stand on a completely restored and reconciled earth.

Job’s redemption was in part. When his Redeemer stands on the earth, his redemption will be in full. Your redemption now is in part. Your sins have been forgiven and you are guaranteed a place in God’s family and a part in His Kingdom. But things still break. Hearts are still crushed. We still bury loved ones and we still suffer the effects of sin and brokenness in this world. We live right where Job lived. We live in the already and the not yet. We have already been redeemed and we have not yet experienced the full effects of this redemption. But we can rest assured, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His promises to us, that like Job, we too will see our Redeemer stand on the earth.

Let me return to one of my original thoughts. The end of Job’s story leaves us wanting because we are meant to be left wanting. Job’s true hope was not in getting everything back that Satan had taken for another go around on this earth. We are meant to look past the earthly riches and partial restoration towards Someone greater. We are meant to look past the new riches and additional children, through the grief of Job, and to the same Redeemer that he sees standing on the earth. We are meant to see that full restoration still awaits those of us who have breath in our lungs. We are meant to cling to the same Redeemer that Job was clinging to for his very life.

I don’t think that our memories will be wiped clean in heaven. I think that we will remember every tear and every moment of terror in grief. But we will remember it in the context of the glory of Christ. What was once terror will now be the peace that passes all understanding.

Let me explain it this way. Have you ever lost a child in a park? It’s terrifying. You take your eye off of them for one minute and all of a sudden they’re gone. When I was younger, my parents took our family of six to a water park in Florida. All of a sudden, my younger brother Mark was gone. No one knew where he was. It must have been terrifying for my parents. Did he drown? Did a stranger take him? Was he even in the park? What was probably a few minutes must have felt like hours. They finally found him. I think he went to use the bathroom and didn’t tell anyone. Didn’t he know he was in a water park? Just go in the wave pool!

You would think that at that moment there would only be relief and hugs of reconciliation. But my dad spanked Mark, and he deserved it. We all wanted to spank Mark. He had ruined everything. But then after the terror, there was peace as Mark was just hugged over and over again. In the years to come, every time we shared this story, we would laugh. But our laughter did not come without remembering the terror.

In some way, this reflects what I think it will be like when we see our Redeemer and we stand in his glory. The terror of grief will be replaced by the love of our Father. There will be a full understanding of why our grief was worth the wait of redemption.

Jesus is the Redeemer who stands on the earth. Jesus is the Redeemer who is making all things new. Because Jesus is the Redeemer who stands on the earth, Job will indeed be completely restored in the Kingdom to come. The good news is that if Jesus is your Redeemer, you too will see him stand on the earth once again. You too will have the full redemption that brings about perfect peace and a joy that is complete.

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