Archive for August 23rd, 2018

Job 40:1-5: Arguing with the Almighty

Thursday, August 23, 2018


I love to read the answer that God gives Job after all those chapters of haranguing that go on between Job, his wife, and his friends. Finally, Yahweh speaks “out of the whirlwind” to ask questions: Who are you to question me?  Where were you when the earth was formed, the stars set in the sky and the animals and vegetation created?  Job replies that he will now be silent to listen . . . and as God continues, we wonder if he means to sound so much like an unfeeling tyrant?  Does God not, we might ask, understand that Job has stood unjustly accused?  Does Yahweh not remember that Job has been a good and faithful servant?  Does he not understand the suffering and pain which Job has endured?  If we read through to end of the book, we will have an answer to these questions.

Today’s reading echoes a feeling we may experience: that God just does not “get it”.  We may feel as though God does not understand what it is like to be human.  Sometimes it seems that the lines between guilt and innocence are blurred, and that if the innocent suffer along with the guilty, what is the point in being righteous and behaving well?  When we read and reflect further, we will understand that guilt and innocence are not what God is concerned about here.  Yahweh questions Job to ask him if he is prepared to be the deity who oversees a vast and complex realm.  Of course, Job is not, realizing that no human could order the universe and bring completion to such a chaotic world.  No, Yahweh and Job end their dialog by returning to what is important, they each remain in their proper roles: loving, protecting creator and loyal, obedient creature.  In this final dialog we see that both Yahweh and Job know and express who they are and what their nature is.

When God seems distant to us we might pick up this interesting story with its human drama of innocent suffering to see how and where we fit into the tale.  Are we the wife who urges her husband to curse God and die (2:9)? Are we the friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar who insist that Job repent for some nameless sin even as Job proclaims his innocence, saying that he knows not what he did to incur God’s wrath?  Do we act as the Satan does in the opening chapters, do we roam the earth looking for mischief to create?  How do we see God?  As a sarcastic tyrant or as a faithful creator who has only our good in mind?  How do we react when we feel estranged from God?  With petulance, or like Job who admits at last that God is great and that God is good?  Do we, like Job, finally put our worries aside knowing that God will handle them?  Do we intercede when asked, as Job does, for the very friends who tried to lead us astray?  Do we rely on God or on ourselves?  Do we spend sleepless night worrying about our own guilt and innocence or do we move on to pick up the threads of a broken life as best we can?  What do we do?  How do we pray?  Where do we turn for help?

Tomorrow, answers?

Adapted from a reflection written on January 27, 2008.

Image from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-jacoby/asking-questions-is-really-hard_b_7052722.html 

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