There are number of things at the end of the book of Job that really strike me.
For starters, much of the book contains a dialogue between friends about the problem of evil while believing in a good God. Job asserts that the tragedies that befell him were not caused by his sin, though his friends think otherwise. Job wishes to have an audience with God to present his innocence and receive an explanation for the horrific things he has endured. But when God finally speaks, He says nothing about Job’s suffering. Instead the theophany serves to reveal God’s power and ability to administer justice. It’s as though God invites Job to trust Him even when God’s ways remain mysterious. I wonder how often God says the same to me?
Another thing I find interesting: God gets angry with Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar (though not Elihu) for not speaking rightly about God. In order to be forgiven, the trio needs to (a) make a sacrifice and (b) rely on Job’s prayers for them. Did Job feel like praying for them? They ended up being lousy friends who falsely accused Job; they would have been more helpful by keeping their mouths shut and just being with Job in his anguish. (Perhaps these three provide us with the origin of the expression, “With friends like you, I don’t need enemies!”) But Job nevertheless prays for them. I think Job’s desire for reconciled, good relationships with others (including those who hurt him) reveals the integrity that characterized Job’s relationship with God all along. Perhaps Jesus had Job in mind when He taught in His Sermon on the Mount, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” I wonder how far I have to go before I’ve figured out how to consistently do that?
Finally, the last words from the lips of Job stop me in my tracks. Before I quote them, I remind you that at the very beginning of the book, Job was described as being “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” That sounds impressive to me; if only I was more like that! But now hear what Job says after God speaks to him:
“My ears had heard of you
—- but now my eyes have seen you.”
Job started with a good relationship with God, but somehow his ordeal has now produced a much more intimate relationship with God. It’s as though Job didn’t really know God until he experienced tragedy. I wonder whether I have the insight and fortitude to perceive how God is drawing me closer to Him when I go through rough patches?
”Job in Despair” colour lithograph by Marc Chagall (1887-1985).
Found online at Spaightwood Galleries.