I’ve been re-reading the book of Job – you know – that super-depressing book in the middle of the Bible right before Psalms. I’ve read it before but this time it was somehow different.
I remember the first time I read it I forced myself to get through it as quickly as possible, because you just don’t wanna hear about that kind of suffering and then leave the person there – you wanna push through to the end. I think that’s a tendency we all have.
Maybe I was numb this time, or more at peace, or just momentarily heartless, but I actually took the time to stay there and listen to this guy – really listen – and was stunned and inspired by what was there.
The stuff Job says here is exactly the kind of stuff that Christians think, but would never actually admit to thinking. It crosses our minds, even if only for a moment, but we think it so sacriligious that we shove it out of our minds right away and hope God didn’t notice.
That’s exactly the kind of stuff that Job says here – out loud – in the middle of the Bible!
Here’s just a few of the verses I’ve hi-lighted:
“A despairing man should have the devotion of his friends, even though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” – 6:14
“He [God] is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us…” – 9:32,33
“Your hands shaped me and made me…But this is what you concealed in your heart, and I know that this was in your mind…Why then did you bring me out of the womb?” – 10:8,13,18
I won’t go over all of them – that would eliminate the sense of discovering them for yourselves. But I would like to mention and talk about this one verse in particular:
“Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for him? Will you show him partiality? Will you argue the case for God?” – 13:7,8
How often do we get into discussions over God being non-existent or uncaring because of an event in someone’s life, and come back to them with answers like “You just need more faith” or “If God let it happen then it was really a good thing” or the infamous “You must’ve done something to deserve it”?
Do we really think we’re speaking on God’s behalf when we say these things? Do we feel as though God’s honour is at stake and that we have to come up with something to say in his defense or else he won’t be glorified?
God is a big guy – he can take care of himself. If the answers to someone’s pain are not visible at the moment, that does not mean we have to look for answers or else. And frankly I don’t think God is too happy with us when we do.
What I find truly fascinating about Job is that even though he says all these things that we feel are so sacriligious – that nobody should ever even think – God listened to all this and decided “I want this in my book, which will go out to every nation. Everyone in the world needs to read this.” God wants people to know that it’s okay to have these questions. This left me stunned.
If you’re interested in what else Job has to say – you know where to find him (if not then re-read the beginning of this article). If you want to try reading it objectively (without the emotional storm) then maybe skip past the first 2 chapters for the time being. After that it’s easy to tell which parts are Job speaking because those passages begin with his name in big letters (depending on your version of the Bible). His friends have a bit of wisdom too, but not much, which God tells them off for later on.