I am glad that I live in a country where the seasons are so clearly marked … and I guess being British I do like to talk about the weather so it is good that we have plenty of variety on that front. This week I have been appreciating the promise of spring. All of a sudden, there have been crocuses appearing in my garden and I have even spotted a couple of fluffy bumble bees. Winter has been dull and grey but now there are hints of colour and the promise of warmer weather just around the corner.
There is HOPE!
I am so glad that even in all the low and hard things that Job is talking about he also acknowledges hope. I love that Job, in the midst of suffering, with friends rubbing salt in the wounds, is still declaring hope.
‘At least there is hope for a tree; if cut down, it will sprout and the shoots will not fail’ … Why? Because ‘the roots grow old, yet at the scent of water it will bud’. Job 14:7-9.
Job doesn’t apply this to his own life though and seems to be stuck in the ‘reality’ of human nature rather than the supernatural. I think that ‘reality’ is loud and large, especially for Job in his circumstances, but the supernatural is bigger still … again, it is a choice as to which reality we live in. I cannot escape the hint that he lets me in on even if he doesn’t follow it through. I think that it is essential that we pursue HOPE especially when things are tough.
‘At the scent’ is such an encouragement. At the scent of water a cut down tree, a stump which looks dead, will bud. It is as if it knows that there is something on the way. I may not see the coming rain, my salvation, my rescue plan … but I will smell it. But how will I know? Everything around me can look just the same, just as dire but something has shifted. Job gives another hint. There will be shoots that begin to grow because the roots are old and established. Something is happening underground! The supernatural is awakening and even the things that appear dead have to respond.
This little snippet is really tantalising. It is the anticipation of rain, the scent in the air the change in the ground that triggers the budding and growth. It isn’t something that can even be measured … it is faith.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 11:1-3
Hope is not deferred but alive and awaiting the scent of rain. Without hope there is no faith. We first have to hope in what Jesus has done before we can have faith that He will save us. Hope isn’t just a wishful thinking but a feeling of confident expectation and a desire for an outcome. Hope is the forerunner of faith.
I have been a follower of Jesus for many years so know the stuff, but I can’t allow that to be what sustains me when everything seems cut away because that too can be trimmed off. When you go through suffering or tough times it feels like you have been cut down to be a stump. It feels like there is no sign of life at all. If I have no hope in that place, ‘my stump’ will dry out and die, it is only by having hope that it will survive. It is hope that ensures my roots to run deep and faith causes me to commit to bud when I sense the coming rain. I need to trust that the drought or winter is not my eternal season. Roots that run deep might look like just steadfastly reading my Bible and praying even though I feel nothing, worshipping when I can’t be bothered or being real when I’d rather hide. If I have hope, this confident expectation, for my GOD to be with me no matter else is happening I know that my time for supernatural budding will come.