Like many other victims of depression, Job is preoccupied with thoughts of death. At times, he longs for death to put an end to his sufferings (e.g. Job 6:8,9); it would be a merciful release. But he also sees himself heading towards a black hole, bereft of all joy and hope (e.g. Job 7:6-10). Death is “the place of no return… the land of gloom and utter darkness.” (Job 10:21) As we all know, there is no returning from the grave (Job 14:7-12).
Unless… unless God ‘remembers’ us – in which case there is a possibility of life and fellowship with Him beyond death. “If someone dies, will they live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer you…” (Job 14:14,15) If God loves us, He can reach us even in the grave (John 5:28,29). And if He will also forgive our sins (Job 14:16,17), then anything is possible!
And thus a light shines briefly in Job’s darkness. If Job’s Redeemer lives, then so will Job (Job 19:25,26). He will awake on the far side of death, to eternal life; he will meet God ‘in the flesh’, and then all his questions will be answered. “For now we see only a reflection, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; than I shall know fully, as I am fully known.” (I Corinthians 13:12)
Is Job just clutching at straws here? Or is he on to something? God never tells him explicitly that his hopes will be realised (although later He does state that Job has “spoken the truth about me.” – Job 42:8) But in the final chapter of Job’s story, there is a subtle hint in that direction. As recompense for his undeserved sufferings, God gives back to Job twice as much as he had before: twice as many sheep, twice as many camels, twice as many oxen, twice as many donkeys, and… the same number of children. For Job’s original children, though dead, are not lost to him for ever; they will be resurrected with him ‘on the last day’.