Hope for a Tree
Scripture Reading: Job 14:1-12; 19:25-27
1Man who is born of a woman
is few of days and full of trouble.
2 He comes out like a flower and withers;
he flees like a shadow and continues not.
3 And do you open your eyes on such a one
and bring me into judgment with you?
4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
There is not one.
5 Since his days are determined,
and the number of his months is with you,
and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,
6 look away from him and leave him alone,
that he may enjoy, like a hired hand, his day.
7 “For there is hope for a tree,
if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.
8 Though its root grow old in the earth,
and its stump die in the soil,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put out branches like a young plant.
10 But a man dies and is laid low;
man breathes his last, and where is he?
11 As waters fail from a lake
and a river wastes away and dries up,
12 so a man lies down and rises not again;
till the heavens are no more he will not awake
or be roused out of his sleep.
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in[b] my flesh I shall see God,
27 whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
“My heart faints within me! At least there is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.”
I grew up on a farm in Central Alberta, where poplars, aspens, and birch trees grow along the edges of fields. While there are some big trees, it takes a long time for them to grow, and non-native trees have to be cared for meticulously in order to thrive.
A year ago last winter, temperatures quickly dropped below -35C (-31F) and damaged some of the trees. However, rather than simply cutting down what looked like dead trees in the spring, my parents were hopeful that the trees might recover. And by the middle of summer, many of the damaged trees had new saplings growing around the base of the trunk.
When Job was at his lowest point—after losing his family, his home, and his livelihood— and he wasn’t receiving support from his friends, he looked to trees as a sign of resilience. He lamented that “a man dies and is laid low,” but he noted, “At least there is hope for a tree.” At that point, Job couldn’t see past his sorrow. But awhile later he summoned up a clear statement of faith: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.”
Job then echoed the idea of a stump dying in the soil and yet putting out shoots at the scent of water as he said, “And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. . . . How my heart yearns within me!”
God our Father, summon deep hope in us that one day, even after our flesh has failed, that because of Jesus’ resurrection, we too, in our flesh, will see you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.