Job had a great life, and then he lost it all. He became terribly sick. It finally became too much for him. He questioned God. Why was all of this happening to him?
God answered from within a whirlwind. Imagine how scary that must have been! He asked Job where he was when he was creating all the world and all the animals in it. Many people have felt that this was the divine putting down Job. However, Professor David Dorsey sees this differently. He found that over thirty of the nouns and verbs that were used in Job's complaint were used in God's response over 140 times. He sees this as God taking Job's complaints seriously, and giving a serious, well-thought-out answer. Job is humbled before God's answer. God, from within the whirlwind, asks Job where he was when God created all the world and the heavens. God asks Job where he was when God created all the animals, some of which humans cannot even approach. Job realizes that he has always talked with God, but that he can also see God in the nature that is around him. Job takes comfort in this and cannot go on complaining.
Job's friends had assumed that Job's suffering came from some sin he had committed. But the fact of the matter is, both good and bad things happen to God's children. Job suffered misfortunes and questioned God on it. God answered Job, and Job realizes that even in the midst of tragedy, the world is not bereft of God's creative presence.
Get out this week and enjoy
This week we are meeting Job as he suffers. This may raise a lot of questions of concerns in children. Why do bad things happen to people? This is an issue in my house. I listen to the news on the radio and my children hear about wars, fires, famine, flooding. Sometimes I must turn it off for all the sadness. What can I tell them when they ask why these happen to people? The truth, I don't know. But what I can remind them is the lesson we learned last week: God is always with us. In good times and bad. That is what Job knew. He praised God when he was a wealthy man. He continued to praise Him when all his worldly goods were taken away.
The story of Job does not fit into any particular time or location. In fact, early Jewish interpreters viewed it as a parable on suffering of the righteous. Suffering has always existed in this world, and many times those that suffer have done nothing to deserve it. This book explores how to respond to suffering, on an individual level.
We leave Job this week when he has be struck fatally ill. We do not understand why he is suffering all this misfortune. We only know that he is not turning against God. Having learned the story of Job as a child, I thought this a curious place to leave off. My young students may be saddened. They won't understand. But I suppose there is never an easy way to explain away suffering. There is a saying, misfortunes come in threes. I clung to this last fall when I suffered two misfortunes pretty close together. I joked that I just needed a third and I was done. When that third came, I said I was done for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, that is not how life works. By the end of the year we suffered two more misfortunes. Could I blame God for my old oil burner? What would be the point. That seems like a silly thing for God to be concentrating on. But I could know that he was with us as we tried to figure out how to pay for the new one.