Set on Fire

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“If a man dies, shall he live again?” That’s the question, isn’t it? “Is this all there is?” People want to know.

We are going to live out our lives here in misery, pain, frustration, aggravation, and irritation, and after that comes oblivion forever. Sometimes one thinks that oblivion might even be merciful after all of this. “If a man dies, will he live again?” It was Job who asked this question, and Job had a really good reason to ask whether life was even worth living or not. Here’s a man who had been wealthy and successful—I mean, everything the man ever did in his life worked, and all of a sudden, everything in his life fell completely apart. All of his children were killed when a windstorm came by and destroyed the house they were all partying in that particular day.

A group of civilians came by and stole all of his livestock—every bit of it, leaving him with nothing. I don’t think they had insurance back in those days to pay for all that. One moment he was a wealthy man, and the next moment he had nothing. Not long after that, he began to notice the first signs of the appearance of boils on his body. Finally, he was covered with boils from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, and there was absolutely no place he could get comfortable.

Now, if you’ve been sick—and it may have been long enough since you were sick that you don’t remember real well—but when you’re sick, life gets to be a real burden. You don’t think clearly, you can’t sleep well, and it’s difficult to concentrate when the fever goes up or when pain is in your body. You think, “Well, I can just shovel it off to one side, and I can keep my mind clear at least, and I can keep my mind focused on what’s important. What I’m doing.” No, you can’t.

As your pain begins to rack your body, and as fever begins to mount, your mind doesn’t work like it did when you were healthy and whole and feeling good, and everything was working. And this is why this man had no place to get comfortable—no place to really, you know, be able to get rid of the pain. The pain was with him all the time. And when he slept under these conditions, he could only sleep because of exhaustion. No peaceful sleep for Job in this period of time, and the only encouragement he could get out of his wife was, “Well, why don’t you just curse God and die?”

I am sure that death was an option that might have crossed his mind, even if his wife had not mentioned it to him, maybe even suggested it to him, that he end his own life because life had become such a terrible, terrible crushing burden. And so, I think it makes a lot of sense that a man in Job’s position would want to know, “What is there in this for me to go on? Is life worth living? Should I keep on trying with this?”


Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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Image Credits: FEMA/Bill Koplitz