Friday, October 14, 2011

Some thoughts on Job

The Book of Job does not allow any disparagement of Job’s innocence. As Wisdom scholar Roland Murphy points out, “Job’s innocence is assured by divine pronouncement.” All attempts by his friends fail to place any blame on him for the agonies he suffers. The Lord turns against him “without cause” (Job 2:3). Job, while being unique and even rather inhuman in the perfect blamelessness attributed to him from the beginning of the text (1:1), is remarkably human in his insatiable, unanswerable demand to know why he is crushed “without cause” (9:17). 

I do not think this demand of his lessens his uprightness. It seems to me that it is good to struggle with God and that Job’s very struggle with God is a part of his righteousness. His struggle with God makes him an Israelite in heart if not by birth (see “יִשְׂרָאֵל, Israel” in Gen 32:28).  

To justify and circumlocute the agonies of human life rather than crying out with them to God is the business of Job’s friends, who “never speak to God,” but only about God (Murphy 38, emphasis mine). What is more, what they say about God is not right, says the Lord (42:7). Contrariwise, Job continually speaks to God, complains to God, challenges God, accuses God. Throughout all, he sincerely and honestly maintains relationship with God, however turbulent, regardless of what God has let happen. There is no fault in Job.

Human suffering is a mystery that “humans do not have the wisdom to solve” and that God does not solve for us even when he at last replies to Job’s entreaties (Murphy 41-42, Job 38). It seems to me that the wisdom of Job is to fear the Lord in all eventualities and to maintain relationship with God unconditionally, even and especially when we do not understand.

The scene in the following video clip from The Apostle (starring Robert Duvall) is a good illustration, I believe, of relating to God from within our inexplicable suffering. 

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