1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
John 9:1-3 (Today’s New International Version [TNIV])
It’s believed that Job lived sometime in the 2nd millennium BC. He is not thought to have been an Israelite. I’m not proud to admit this, but because so much of the book of Job contains advice that is revealed at the end of the narrative to be misguided, for many years I have tended to avoid reading it in its entirety. Having recently completed reading this book of the Bible, I now know – of course – that that was a big mistake.
We all were, are, or will be Job.
We will one day lose everything that we care about on this earth.
We will be disconnected from every family member, from every friend.
We will lose every treasured object. Our health will leave us.
These are not popular thoughts, but they are facts that we must face and we will gain wisdom, insight, and perspective by facing them. This is why we must all read the book of Job so very carefully.
In reading the book and reflecting on it, I was amazed at the sophistication of the theology, especially considering that this book is thought to be one of the first books of the Bible written.
But that theology is not the one of his counselors. Job’s friends approach him and formulate a theology of his experience. They seem to follow what we might today call a modern impulse to theologically dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s of Job’s experience. Surely he has done something wrong that has brought judgment upon himself. Eliphaz the Temanite says
“Is it for your piety that he rebukes you
and brings charges against you?
Is not your wickedness great?
Are not your sins endless?”
But they don’t see the big picture. Their minds rush to explain the cataclysm before them and they mentally wrap the entire situation into a tight little box.
But God is not pleased.
He speaks directly to Eliphaz and says,
“I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has,”
They miss the boat … but then so does Job.
God says to him,
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!”
The Lord unleashes question after question after question upon Job. It is as if He is saying, “Who are *you* to question *me*??” Job seems to forget that,
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 29:29 (TNIV)
What really amazes me in the narrative is that – as far as we can tell – God never tells Job the backstory of his experience. He provides Job with no explanation. Even for Job, He will not dot the i’s or cross the t’s.
We will not always understand what He is doing.
He will not always give us an explanation for what’s happening in your lives.
But we are to trust Him and obey Him, even when we are going through the unimaginable.
He is God and we are not.
It is ok that we will lose everything, as long as we have God. He will allow hurt into our lives but it’s ok. Even as I type those words my spirit rebels against them. Because I don’t want to hurt. I want to be comfortable. I want everything to go my way. But the point of my life is not that I would be comfortable. The point of my life is the glory of God. He is the point. He is the Beginning and the End. I am creature; He is Creator.
I realize that speaking in this way may not be very fashionable but I see Job as an iconoclastic book. I believe it’s meant to humble us. Why would God allow Satan to do what he did to Job? I have no idea. The book provides us with no satisfying theodicy. But I believe that one of the lessons of the book is that we have to trust God to be God and that He is powerful and way above us.
I’m sure I need to read the book again.