Ah, the book of Job. It’s amazing, really, how many people quote verses from this book as examples of Biblical wisdom, when they’re quoting Job’s “friends” who are for the most part light years off-base.
Job’s know-it-all buddy Bildad really goes to town on him in chapter 18. I linked the Message translation above, because it’s fun to read their back-and-forth in more modern lingo. Bildad’s attack, as the scripture section header refers to it, includes one gem that I’d like to use on some of my more unreasonable call center customers:
Do you want the world redesigned to suit you?
Should reality be suspended to accommodate you?
Of course, we know that Bildad’s idea of reality doesn’t necessarily mesh with the truth; the wicked aren’t always punished in this life, and those that endure troubles, trials and terrors aren’t always those who have done something to deserve it. Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar, like many of us, had developed their world view from their limited experience. If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck… Job must have done something awfully bad to deserve everything he was going through.
Job’s responses must have sounded to them like one giant pity party. Not knowing the background of the wager between God and Satan, we’d probably think of it like that too. Take this excerpt from Job 17, for instance:
My life’s about over. All my plans are smashed,
all my hopes are snuffed out—
My hope that night would turn into day,
my hope that dawn was about to break.
If all I have to look forward to is a home in the graveyard,
if my only hope for comfort is a well-built coffin,
If a family reunion means going six feet under,
and the only family that shows up is worms,
Do you call that hope?
Who on earth could find any hope in that?
No. If hope and I are to be buried together,
I suppose you’ll all come to the double funeral!
Wow. What amazes me, though, was that right in the middle of this, in Job 19:23-27, we are treated to such a brilliantly beautiful statement of hope — sheer poetry that was included in the text of Handel’s “Messiah”:
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
That kind of poetry inspires.
Over 18 years ago I wrote my own poem entitled “Job’s Prayer“, asking myself if I could face anything remotely like what Job did and still stand within the midst of desolation and proclaim God as my hope. Fifteen years later I had the opportunity to live it for myself.
You never know what kind of strength is inside you, and how deep your roots go, until you get hit by the really heavy storms of life. I know many of you have gone through, or are currently going through, some seriously difficult challenges… but these are also opportunities to stand firm like Job and declare that our Redeemer lives, and when it’s all said and done, we know He comes out the winner.
One day we will see Him for ourselves.