13 October 2018Job 42:1-17
After this Job lived for one hundred and forty years, and saw his children, and his children’s children, four generations. And Job died, old and full of days. (vs 16-17)
Psalm: Psalm 10:1-12
Well, it’s been an adventure. In some ways the happy ending when all the loose ends are tied up, Job’s fortune restored, and his rather poor friends get their comeuppance, is a disappointment. It’s all a bit too neat and too soothing. All that agony, shame, sadness, humiliation and despair has its Cinderella moment and we can go away an “live happily ever after”. Real life isn’t like that. Bad things happen to good people and no magic wand is waved to make it OK. We are left bereaved and there is an empty place in our hearts. We make a terrible mistake and will always have to live with the consequences. Our friends prove to be unreliable and unhelpful and we feel deserted and heartbroken. Love goes wrong, illness grips us, and we can feel the grind of past regrets and failures. But the book of Job doesn’t need this rosy resolution to work.
Job’s journey is from a happy confidence in his life and his God through the desert places of disappointment and failure to a place of resolution. In that place he gets a sense of the might of God and in that perspective his own tiny place. In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, there is a terrifying instrument of punishment – The Total Perspective Vortex. In this machine one is shown oneself in the light of infinity and the fragile ego is crushed. Job, however, is strangely not crushed. The very might of God breaks through his fragile ego and finds a tougher inside. The creature of God is imbued with divine powers. Despite his crushed state God still believes in him. His anger dissipates in the perspective of God’s creativity, and his real self comes forth.
The happy ending is not that everything is put right, but that even when it wasn’t Job was. He finds wisdom – it is fear of the Lord. He gains understanding – to depart from evil. He is a new creature.
- What has most touched you in the account of Job’s trials and troubles?
- Where does this story resonate most with your life at the moment?
- What would you like to say to God in the light of that?