“For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and its shoots will not fail. Though its roots grow old in the ground, and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and produce sprigs like a plant. But a man dies and lies prostrate. A person passes away, and where is he? As water evaporates from the sea, and a river becomes parched and dried up, so a man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens no longer exist, he will not awake nor be woken from his sleep. Oh that You would hide me in Sheol, that You would conceal me until Your wrath returns to You, that You would set a limit for me and remember me! If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait until my relief comes. You will call, and I will answer You; You will long for the work of Your hands.” (Job 14: 7-15, NASB)
Job uses what happens when a tree dies to understand what happens to humans when they die. He’s expressing his despair and hopelessness but hinting at hope at the same time. This idea of life out of death is a New Testament hope, too.
“But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?’ You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body, which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else… So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body…” (1 Corinthians 15:35-49, NASB)
Felled trees throughout the woods surrounding my house produce seedlings and are surrounded by new life. The death of a loved one seems permanent, but the promise of eternity gives life to hope. This truth goes beyond the physical, too. When a person seems spiritually dead, lost to evil and apathetic to God, we can remember that God brings life to that which is dead.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5, NIV)
We often despair in hopelessness because we focus on the temporal, but the Bible tells us we can have hope for life when we focus on Jesus. Even if we, like Job, have everything but our own lives taken from us and our friends insist we are being punished for some wrongdoing, we can still have hope in the eternal God who promises to bring life out of death.
Jesus dying and returning to life created this hope. When you focus there, on him, you can have hope for what seems dead because Jesus defeated death.
“And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.” (2 Timothy 1:10, NLT)