Over dinner, we shared Hannah's story with them, and then our friends, the Browns, shared their son Adam's story. After that, it was their turn to share. The dad, who is a pastor, related how he had been preparing for his Easter Sunday sermon for a couple of weeks, and he had been drawn to Job 19:25, which says, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth." Now, he acknowledged that Job is not a typical source to draw upon for an Easter message. I've never heard an Easter sermon out of Job -- Have you?
As he prepared for that Sunday, he studied the entire book of Job, and was really struck by all the things that Job had suffered ... loss of his servants, his livestock, his ten children, and his health ... yet he still said, "...Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." He was amazed by the fact that Job could still praise the Lord after all he had been through.
Then their family's life was changed forever in a split second of time on the night before he was to deliver that sermon. And with tear-filled eyes, he said, "What I thought was meant for my congregation was really meant for me and my family." God had led him to study just the passage of Scripture that was needed to prepare for him for what his family was about to face. And the knowledge that their Redeemer lives is what is carrying this sweet family through each painful day.
After visiting with them, I decided to look a little more deeply at the 19th chapter of Job. The chapter is basically a litany of all of Job's problems...
- His relatives had failed him
- His close friends had forgotten him
- His breath was strange to his wife (I'm not kidding, check out verse 17)
- He was a stench to his siblings
- Young children despised him and talked against him
- His intimate friends abhorred him
- Those whom he loved had turned against him
- His bones were sticking to his skin
Then suddenly, in the middle of this really depressing list, he makes this declaration: "For I know that my Redeemer lives!" I love that! Even though his life had not turned out the way he had hoped, even though he was facing desertion, extreme isolation, and disappointment, he had hope, because he knew he had a Redeemer.
For many of us, life hasn't turned out as we had planned. We face great disappointment and sorrow. Maybe we feel abandoned and alone. But we have hope, because we have a living Redeemer!
Of all the attributes of God, the thought of him as "redeemer" is my favorite. Look up the word "redeem" in the dictionary and you'll find that, among other things, it means "to pay off", "to set free", "to save from a state of sinfulness and its consequences". According to these definitions, Jesus' death on the cross redeems us from our sins. But there is another meaning of redeem, and that is "to make up for". And I believe that God is going to redeem the sufferings we endure on this earth in Heaven one day, and maybe even, to some degree, while we're still on earth.
I know that my Redeemer lives, and because of that, I can live with hope in my heart and joy in my soul!