This series, written by Pastor Ricky Jacob, who is serving the Winnebago people of Nebraska, looks at the story of Job and helps us discover how to live a life of faith like him.
Need to start at the beginning? Here's week 1
The people in Job’s life—Bildad, Zophar and Eliphaz—cut him down. They had the bedside manner of drill sergeants and the compassion of chainsaw killers. A revised version of their theology might read like this: “Boy, Job, you must have done something really bad! We know God is good, so if bad things are happening to you, then you’ve been really bad!” No wonder, (in Job 16:2), Job calls them “miserable comforters.” His head hurts. His eyes burn. His legs ache. And he can’t stomach any more hollow homilies. But there is hope for a tree!
A tree can overcome being left for dead. “Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant” (Job 14:8–9). Job was left for dead. First by the accuser—Satan—who thinks Job’s faith is but a farce; second, by his wife (“Curse God and die”); and third, by Bildad, Zophar and Eliphaz. We all know the feeling of being left for dead. Life does that, sometimes, doesn’t it?
But even though a stump may be dormant for a long time, a good soaking rain often spurs new growth. A tree can overcome being left for dead! “There is hope for a tree” means that there is hope for me. Job 14:14, “I will wait for my renewal to come.” Job claims renewal in the midst of his darkness and death. And it all comes from a single, solitary, seemingly insignificant sprout on the stump of a tree. This one small part—this detail—is beautiful. And, for us, on this day, it is enough.
Jesus had been cut down and left for dead. But in the midst of history’s darkest and most deadly moment there was hope, hope because on the tree of the cross Jesus took away our sin and wretchedness. On the cross Jesus identifies with our loneliness, rejection, and pain. And then renewal came. Three days later the crucified One was risen, indeed!
That’s finally why Job can say, “There is hope for a tree.” And that’s why, no matter how tormented we are, no matter how broken we have become, no matter if death hovers on our doorstep—we can say, “There is hope for me!” That detail, a sprout on the stump of a tree, is beautiful and it is enough. It is always and forevermore—enough. Amen.
This has been Pastor Ricky Jacob of Jesus Our Savior Lutheran Church and preschool, of Winnebago. I close with the words of Good News of Job: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth" [Job 19:25 NIV]