Given what I’ve been through the last few years, some friends have compared me to Job. That’s quite a stretch. Job was a very wealthy man; I’m on social security. Job had vast herds and holdings; I don’t even own a dog. Job was respected in high places; I carry the weight of a shadow.
There are other differences. Job’s wife was one of his afflictions; my wife was the strength and joy of my life. Job’s friends inadvertently—and then intentionally—rubbed sand into his wounds; my friends have been great healers and encouragers.
What Job and I have in common is a concentrated period of suffering and loss that led to a sense of alienation from God. Alienation but not apostasy. Despite being confused and angry about our circumstances, neither of us cursed God nor doubted his existence.
Eventually Job was restored to fellowship; not by anything he did but simply by God showing up. Job wasn’t revived by the answers he got to his questions—God didn’t bother. Nor was it the outpouring of physical blessings—those came later. His transformation was sparked by God’s tangible presence.
I’m currently living in the middle of the book of Job. Like him, I pray, pout, argue, appease, rant, remonstrate, complain, cajole, accuse God, acquit myself, hunger for insight and hate shallow theological explanations. All to no avail. God has to show up to rekindle the relationship.
Yes, Job is an Old Testament saint and nowadays Christians have the indwelling Spirit. I can accept this “by faith,” but experiencing God should be visceral at some point. I long for the comfort and assurance of his felt presence, especially in the midst of catastrophe.
Every day I choose to stay put and listen instead of giving up and hobbling away . . . I don’t know where I’d go.
I don’t believe it affects how we apply its teachings, but is the book of Job a literal biography? What if Job is more of a legend, like King Arthur or Robin Hood?
Tell you why I think the latter in my next post.