Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 123; 146, Job 40:1, 41:1-11, Acts 16:6-15, John 12:9-19
It’s here! The climactic chapter of the book of Job, wherein God will conclude his explanation of all Job’s suffering – and maybe the explanation of all our suffering. He’s told us about the majesty and wonder of creation that he alone is capable of. He’s made it clear we as mortals can never be righteous or wise enough to comprehend all he has seen and done. His final words of wisdom to Job and those present …
… are thirty-four verses about what may or may not be a super-hippo. Huh?
That’s it, folks. That’s all the author(s) of Job had to offer. Perhaps, in the end, the subject matter was beyond anyone’s ability to address. Maybe there simply is no good justification for a God who allows the slaughter of a man’s family to win a wager. Maybe God is an all-powerful jerk who couldn’t just say “Sorry, that was a rotten but necessary thing to do to you.” No matter what the explanation, we can’t help feeling God just sidestepped the whole issue.
And some of us may be asking, “Did I just waste my time? Why is this book in the Bible anyway?” Well, we haven’t wasted anything. We’ve spent weeks pondering the human condition. We’ve been appropriately outraged about injustice, and equally outraged by inadequate – even unloving – efforts to explain it away. We have inquired into the nature of God, and found the conveniently packaged answers lacking. In other words, we’ve done what serious Old Testament scholars have done for centuries: wrestled with our faith. With its lack of a satisfying resolution, Job may seem like the world’s earliest piece of post-modern literature, but – intentionally or not – it does its job (no pun intended) by leaving us with more questions than answers.
We will always seek meaning in our lives. Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu, Job, and even God represent points of view we work through in our search. Like Job, the best answer we get in life may be: “It’s a God thing – you wouldn’t understand.” And we’ll keep searching, because the search alone holds meaning.
Comfort: The mystery of God is worth exploring our whole lives.
Challenge: Write your own response to Job’s questions.
Prayer: Compassionate God, thank you for your comfort when I suffer. Amen.
Discussion: What questions do you really wish you had answers to?
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