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Archive for August 5th, 2018


Job 38-42: Dialog with God

Job with his friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar

Sunday, August 5, 2018

We have visited with this portion of Job before during our Noontime reflections and we have spent time thinking about the presence and work of Satan, about arguing with the Almighty, Restoration brought about when living a life of impossible hopes.  Today we might pause to think about how blessings arrive in our lives . . . sometimes with people or events which bring us unexpected problems . . . and how these experiences often bring us unexpected outcomes.

In looking for something more, I turned to THE ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE and find that, of course, the Babylonians had their own culture and literature dealing with suffering.  One Akkadian text from approximately 1000 B.C.E. called The Babylonian Theodicy is a dialog between a sufferer and his friend who present questions much like Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar do with Job.  Much of the dialog has to do with the mysterious ways of the gods (page 776).  Another text entitled A Man and His God, is found on a broken tablet and is a lament of a young man suffering from a terrible disease.  This man recognizes and concedes his guilt, unlike Job who is an innocent sufferer.  There is much here to indicate that these ancient cultures spent time thinking and reflecting on the causes of suffering (770).

Ancient Hittite texts often depict their gods as weak and impotent in the face of natural disasters.  And they are sometimes seen as dependent as, for example, in a story about the storm god Telepinu who fell asleep under a tree and forgot to make it rain!  The other gods could not locate him until at last a tiny bee awakened him with a sting, and then a goddess of magic and a local priest intervened on behalf of those who were starving because of the drought (page 784).  All of this is fun and interesting . . . but lacking the depth and theology of the story of Job.

And so we might ask: What does Job tell us today in our modern and fast moving world when we struggle to dialog with God?

Many advances in technology have been made; much information has been stored in databases, and yet we are not much nearer to understanding the beauty and mystery of God.  I asked my granddaughter today what God is if God is not magic.  She answered immediately and without wavering – and with much conviction for one so little – God is miracle.

This is what Job knows.  This is what Job understands.  This is what Job trusts.  This is where Job finds power.  And this is what makes Job important for us today because when we are in the depths of misery and pain, there is nothing more we need than God’s power, joy and life that we experience in our suffering. Moving through the past, and moving beyond our present ordeal, we find solace in our pain, courage in our fear, comfort in our anxiety, hope in our desperation, and newness in our life.  When we most seek relief and restoration we might pray with these chapters from Job today.

We cannot expect a life free of suffering.  Indeed, life so often is suffering.  But what we can expect, and what we can receive is God’s grace, Christ’s touch, the Holy Spirit’s comfort.  And we can expect that joy will rise from our pain when we struggle to dialog with God.


Adapted from a Favorite written on July 29, 2008.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 770. 776 & 784. Print.

Image from: https://www.jw.org/en/publications/jw-meeting-workbook/april-2016-mwb/meeting-schedule-apr4-10/job-bible-false-accusations/

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