Job crosses the line

Trinity Sunday

Psalm 146, 147 (Morning)

Psalm 111, 112, 113 (Evening)

Job 38:1-11,42:1-5

Revelation 19:4-16

John 1:29-34

Uh-oh. Job finally crossed the line with God. He carried on just a little too long. (Small confession: Every time I read this part of the Book of Job, my image is of God speaking in my late grandmother’s voice, saying, “Who do you think you are–Lady Astor’s horse?”)

Now, the reality is that God truly does love Job. So much so, in fact, (plot spoiler alert) that it’s all going to be made right at the end. It’s just that it’s all very long and convoluted and it doesn’t feel that way through most of the book.

Blake_1793_Job%27s_Tormentors.jpgOne of the wonderful things about the book of Job is that just about every raw and awful emotion we have as humans is in there somewhere. Profound grief. Physical pain. Well meaning friends who don’t have a clue and we wish they’d just shut up. Anger. Abandonment. Resentment. Most of all, that feeling that we are so overwhelmed by deep darkness that God is just flat-out absent. It’s all there.

God truly does love Job. Yet he doesn’t mince a single word with him. It adjusts Job’s attitude pretty quickly, too. Truth is, Job knows, deep down inside he’s out of line.

It’s a reality none of us like to talk about in our dealings with people. As much as any of us, as people of faith, like to see how our faith has changed us for the good, the reality is we are still imperfect human beings and we can’t be “good” with everyone all the time. Our biases and our fears will always be there and although they may not rear their ugly heads as often as they used to, we’re still going to stick our foot in our mouth now and then. We’re still going to, from time to time, talk like we know it all, when in reality we’re ignorant as dirt.

Job, for all this carrying on, really is a good man, and he didn’t deserve what happened to him. Yes, his friends are rather unhelpful, but they really do mean well. Some things are just a mess, and all of us might question the presence of God in them from time to time.

The danger, of course is we can become so caught up in the whirlwind of our grief and our anger, our resentment and our feelings of alone-ness, that we can’t even commend the faith that’s within us, let alone in those we love. Now and then, it takes someone who loves us very much to put us in our place, and sometimes in a rather un-glamorous way. When it happens, we are so often just like Job in changing our attitude rather quickly. (You can almost see Job grimace after God…um…rips him a new one…duck his head, and go, “Ooops. Uh…sorry. I’ll shut up and listen now.”)

Granted, it’s not the most desirable way to find our way back to the presence of God. It’s certainly not the preferred way. It’s not even a way we like to think should ever happen. Yet it happens that way now and then, all the same. Frankly, it’s what happens in an intervention. If we’re smart, we’ll take solace that someone loves us enough to have it out with us.

When was a time that someone who loved us very much told us an uncomfortable truth in unpleasant terms, in a way that made us finally see a truth we weren’t willing to admit by ourselves? Where was God in that?

Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, writes about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid

Image: William Blake (public domain)

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