I was driving my three-year old granddaughter home when she asked me, “Lolo (her name for grandfather), what are all those signs?” I was puzzled. What were the “signs” she saw? Upon further investigation, I discerned that she was talking about the gravestones in the cemetery that we’d passed on the way back to her house. In an admittedly clumsy way, I did my best to explain that those were stones to mark the memory of those who are no longer with us in person, but whose influence remains in our lives. I heard myself say, “They have died.” I felt the deep pain of revealing this life lesson to her. Soon she began to name all the loved ones in her community that she wants to remain more than memories on stones.
The more descriptive God becomes about the Leviathan, the more we realize God is describing something no mortal can repel: death itself. Whatever the poet who wrote Job intended, the consequence of the Leviathan is something even divine beings dread (v. 25, CEB). By this point in the story, Job has hinted that he believes there could be life on the other side of death, but he has no assurance of this hope (19:25).
Psychologists tell us that as we age, the fear of death recedes into the background of our daily lives unless we experience the death of a loved one. Then that early terror resurfaces. Job experienced the traumatic loss of his children, household, property, and status in the community. Job knows all too well the thrashing of the Leviathan in his life. With Job’s traumatic story of loss, will Job ever be able to believe that God is not “awed” by the Leviathan (v. 12, CEB)? Can Job believe that God is sovereign over death itself?
What event in your life first led you to become aware of your mortality? How does our society mask the reality of our mortality from plain view?
God in heaven, you know my heart, my fears, and my anxiety concerning death. Lead my heart to assurance that in you all my fears find a place to rest. Amen.