#268 – Job


My Bible reading plan currently has me going through Job.

I feel like reading through Job is my Job Experience.

The first two chapters of Job are great because they’re filled with councils in heaven, Satan being shady and all the calamities that befall Job. After that action-packed beginning, though, Job becomes a poetry book of complaints, like the journal of an emo kid.

For 35 chapters Job goes back and forth with his three friends. Job complains to God and says that it would have been better had he never been born. Job’s friends confront Job and tell him to confess the sin for which he is being punished. Job stubbornly responds to his friends and assures them that he’s sinless.

Thirty. Five. Chapters.

I wrote that beginning a Bible reading plan in Genesis is a bad idea but Job would be much worse.

I’ve attempted to focus, though, while reading through Job and it has helped a little. There’s still a lot of complaining but, in the midst of that complaining, I have been learning about God’s goodness.

Even though Job’s life completely fell apart, God was still good.

Even though Job’s friends thought he had sinned, God was still good.

Even though Job wished that he had never been born, God was still good.

If nothing else, Job’s story teaches us that we don’t know and can’t know everything that God is doing. A lot of Job’s complaints center on not knowing why God is punishing him. Through it all, though, Job continues to worship God and place his trust in him.

After 35 chapters of complaining, arguing and responding, God does eventually show up. And, instead of telling Job exactly why he did what he did, God simply reminds Job that God is God and Job is not. God can do whatever he wants and, because he is good, whatever he does is good.

It’s easier to accept that reality when looking at the story of Job. It’s more difficult to accept that reality when looking at our own lives. As I wrote about, though, when facing gray seasons it’s important to trust in God’s goodness. Even if we can’t see the light, even if we’ve forgotten what light looks like, we need to trust that it will eventually shine through.

Like Job, we can complain and express our feelings, but ultimately we need to believe in God’s goodness. We may not always know what God is doing but we can trust that he is good.

Even when reading 35 chapters in the middle of Job.

What have you learned from the book of Job?


2 comments on “#268 – Job”

  1. While I assuredly believe God is good (Jesus Christ establishes that once and for all), I am hard-pressed to find any evidence for that claim in the book of Job itself.

    In the prose narrative that brackets the poetry, we find God treating his most faithful servant like a pawn in a chess game. Yes, he “rewards” Job at the end with more than Job had before; but is that a good God or a transactional one?

    In the poetry, we find God silent, save for chapters 38-42, in which God, finally fed up with Job’s lamentations (different from “complaining”), basically tells Job, “You just don’t understand, and you never will.” From Job’s point of view, God has reneged on the covenant to do good to those who fear and obey him – and God doesn’t challenge Job on that point (with the one significant exception I’ll menton below). Because, of course, God has no need to justify God’s ways to us. That, too, I believe. But that’s a hard truth.

    What I have learned from the book of Job (and it is not an insight original to me, but I’ve appropriated it with vigor) is why I believe the Spirit inspired this prose tale and this poem and brought them together: when all is said and done, God validates Job’s lamentation. (This is the exception.) God unleashes on Job’s “friends,” telling them, “You have not spoken truly of me as has my servant Job.” In other words, for all of the conventional, even orthodox theology spouted off by Job’s “miserable comforters,” they did not speak truth because Job’s situation, the situation of suffering, called, not for platitudes or even orthodox statements of faith, but silence (those seven days of sitting shiva were the only time the friends got anything right) and solidarity. At least in addressing himself directly to God (something I don’t recall the friends ever dong), Job spoke truly. As the psalm-singer and Jesus did: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” A plea of godforsakenness, but addressed, still and all, to *my* God, *my* God. Because he’s the only God we’ve got.

    I realize we have to read Scripture in light of Scripture; and I don’t mean to brush off what you’ve shared here. But you asked the question! So I wouldn’t choose Job as the best place to look for assurances that God is good.

    1. This is why writing a blog is way better than writing a seminary paper; I can go beyond a single text. 🙂

      I don’t know if I see God using Job as a pawn in some cosmic wager. And, to my point in the post, even if that’s what God was doing, it would still be good.

      Like you astutely pointed out, Job’s story does show us that God listens. And even when we don’t understand what’s happening there’s tremendous value in crying out to our God. And, in the midst of those difficult seasons, simply knowing that God is listening can help us better trust in his ultimate and eternal goodness.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michael. I greatly appreciate it.

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