I’ve just finished two hours of writing on Job in my gazebo. It makes the subject of suffering much more palatable! It’s warm today but the breeze is wonderful and swirls the sweet heavy scent of honeysuckle around me constantly! Delightful. Since I’m loathe to leave this heavenly retreat, and don’t have to work just yet, I decided to start this week’s blog.
I’ll bet this is the way God meant us to live–doing what we love in a beautiful setting. Of course, it’s where he started us–a garden!
I’m over half-way through my interpretive version of Job–but there isn’t as much room for interpretation in it. I’m even getting tired of his friends and their picture of God! It’s obvious to me that Job knew God much better than they did. Though they didn’t think so. They think he must be a closet sinner to be suffering like this. And they keep attempting to bring him to his senses! They think he is in denial.
And I think he is starting to think they are just mean.
He hears no words of comfort. He is ill and in physical, emotional and spiritual pain, and he can still think more clearly than they can! He isn’t hanging onto prevailing doctrines, he’s clear he doesn’t understand what is happening, but his suffering makes anything they know obsolete. Yet they won’t give it up. Won’t even reason with him. Won’t even entertain the idea that they might be wrong!
God, keep me from getting stuck in what I’ve been taught, or what looks to be true! Keep me hanging on to my experimental relationship based on what You have said about Yourself–what I know about You–You are all good no matter how it looks. Remind me there is an enemy with great forces at work here.
I believe Moses wrote this because it was such a great story (He may have heard it from Job’s grandsons during the time he spent in Midian with Jethro.) And because he had his own questions about how could God allow what was happening to him (who was supposed to deliver Israel) and what was happening to Israel in Egypt. Had he messed up? Ruined God’s plan? But surely God was bigger. When things don’t go the way we expect, it’s always hard for us.
Moses struggled to understand God’s dealings with man, as did Job. Both wanted to believe God was all good, but it didn’t make any sense in the face of their experience or what they’d been taught–that God was all powerful and all good. How does this fit that?
And yet the action of Job’s friends, telling him to repent–that undoubtedly he is suffering for his sins–just compels him to God for vindication. I’m SO glad Job had a strong enough sense of self, not to cave into their harangues, or we would never have had this rare, wonderful look behind the scenes on the war in the universe explaining the unexplainable: why there is so much suffering when God is love and ALL good.
I believe Job, a great grandson of Esau, knew Isaac when he was young, and Jacob for a short time, and had heard their stories of experiencing God through encounters with Him, and His Friendship through terrible suffering. Their stories formed his belief and fit his thirty-year experiences of relationship with a loving God. So his friends’ “God of justice” as explanation for his situation didn’t fit. He had a better God.
Job’s friends couldn’t believe God could be your Friend, could be a God of loving relationship; He was the Almighty–a God to fear. Which God do you know? One that demands perfection and justice? Or One whose love will carry you through suffering you can’t understand?