I must explain that my silence has not been a result of writers’ block or tardiness. Intact I’ve had the copy for this blog stored in my iPad for some time. But with this being a book of such heavy subjects, I really needed to pace myself and absorb all the books life lessons (and there are many).
This is a book I’ve dreaded reading for some time. I guess it’s because I anticipated feeling blue post digesting tragedy after tragedy, not to mention feeling the guilt that comes with feeling blue as my life could never be as unlucky as Job’s!
The book opens up with a warm fairy tale- like sequence. We learn that Job was wealthy, successful and also a ‘blameless man’- the type of man that’s hard to find in any era. Satan tries to break Job through mounts of affliction; the poor lad looses much of his wealth, his children and his health and still, he clings onto God ?
(even though it was God who gave Satan permission to inflict the aforementioned. In fact, he moreorless recommends him).
Christians often have a habit of trying to cheer you up by using Job to exemplify how ‘things can always be worse’. But I’ve got news for him, for her and for everyone…I AM NOT JOB!
Paradoxically, subsequent to a conversation had with my partner after a sleepless night, I realised that anyone who refers to Job in said context, hasn’t really grasped the book. For the most part, the poor dude was super distressed. He spent most of his time asking God why bad things were happening to him. Even his friends questioned how good a man he was if God was cursing him.
In chapter three, Job curses the day he was born. My heart sinks for him as he had no say in being born and no jurisdiction over what was happening in his life.
In chapter four, we read what seems to be Satan tormenting Job (probably out of his own frustration). When said ‘evil spirit’ asks if man can be purer than his maker. Till now I wonder what is it he’s saying about God? (any suggestions people?)
In chapter six,Job comes to the realisation that his complaint is just. With that being said, do we have a right to moan if bad things happen to us or we don’t get what we pray for? Or in the midst of our anger, are we just expressing impatience and ungratefulness?
Chapter seven is when I think Job reaches his most depressing point. I’ve always felt that a life without hope is a life incomplete and thus, not worth living. Knowing this is the conclusion Job has reached as a result of his circumstances makes for a really heart breaking read. Yet, this is a point we all go through- our lowest moment. And it seems like its never ending for poor Job.
In chapter eight we are acquainted with Bildad- a character bursting at the seams with allegory. He encompasses the slyness that is Satan, the logic that is you and me and the sympathy within all concerned…apart from Satan…don’t think he’s really bothered to be honest.
Bildad reminds me of the man at the pub. The one who you’ve seen there since you were a kid. There he lingers on same seat, with the same drink, draped in the same tatty blazer. Although everything about him suggests you could never be friends, he’s the one whose always there to listen. He’s the one who says those few words that make you review your life. He reasons with Job, makes him question whether he has always been faithful to God, whether his children got what they deserved and whether repenting would make God reverse everything and leave Job in triumph. Bildad is the one who drives this story forward.
Job then goes back and pleads with God once more.
Chapter 10, particularly from verse 18 onwards, Job makes a point of asking God why he would even allow us to be created (to exist) if we’re to be subject to pain and suffering. Incidentally, that question has always played on my mind. Some Christians have attempted an answer- One may be punished for their sin (which is tosh because Job was a righteous man), these things have become our fate since the fall of man (which I’m not completely convinced by as none of us were not around when that happened), or the famous ‘it’s all part of God’s plan (which I can believe if like Job we have a happy ending, but what about those who never live to see the light at the end of the tunnel?)
In chapter 12 Job further shapes my question with these words:
” He uncovers deep things out of darkness, And brings the shadow of death to light. He makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and guides them. He takes away the understanding of the chiefs of the people of the earth, And makes them wander in a pathless wilderness. They grope in the dark without light, And He makes them stagger like a drunken man.” (Job 12:22-25 NKJV)
But then he says something amazing; he brings a dramatic twist that I’ve yet to see on any other page in the bible: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. He also shall be my salvation, For a hypocrite could not come before Him.” (Job 13:15, 16 NKJV)
Post reading this powerful extract, I took back my concerns re Job’s hopelessness and sort of began to see why those (who have actually read Job through and through) use him as a reference for faith in God despite all things.
Chapter 15 paints a picture of Job breaking out of his ‘pity’ shell and fighting back those who believe (rather harshly) that he brought it all on himself). He calls the self-righteous Biladad a ‘pitiless friend’… I so love how Job’s not having it! Here is where I believe we see the colours of justice seeping through the grey, bleak wall that is Job’s life. He holds a mirror up to his friends who have doubted him (and no doubt his physical appearance mirrors their characteristics).
Chapter 24: Like many of us, Job asks why bad things happen to good people and why the wicked go unpunished. At this post I realised the book of Job never set out to answer those questions. Rather, it’s objective was to show that INSPITE bad things happening to good people, it’s still worth trusting in God. And it seems Job’s faith paid off as his wealth and health is restored and Satan goes away, bitter as ever.
Before clicking the ‘publish’ button, there were still a few use tins bouncing around my head. Perhaps you can answer them. In chapter 42 Job repents; after everything he’s been through, is that fair?
“How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman?” (Job 25:4 NKJV)- not sure what Bildad trying to say :s
Here’s to hoping these questions will soon be answered and here’s to hoping you’ll join me in the next blogging experience which I have aptly titled, ‘Psalms; The Musical.’
Peace out homie! (insert hi five here).