Job 42.1-6, 10-17
You may have noticed that we’ve been concentrating on Mark’s story of Jesus lately; and that’s always a good place to be. At the same time, we have been hearing snippets from the Old Testament Book of Job. It’s time to talk about Job.
The story of Job is the tale of a good man—indeed, a ‘blameless’ man—who lived in a place called ‘Uz’ thousands of years ago. It’s long been the majority opinion of Jewish and Christian scholars that the story of Job is a work of fiction. If that bothers you, remember this: the world of fiction contains much truth. When we read Jane Austen or Charles Dickens or JRR Tolkien, we are immersing ourselves in truth within a setting of fiction. If the Book of Job is a work of fiction, it is nonetheless truth.
Now, Job had it all in the terms of his world. He had scads of children, servants, land, livestock. Job had riches beyond anyone’s comprehension.
But Job loses the lot in a very short space of time. His children and servants are killed, his livestock butchered or stolen.
His response to all this?
Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshipped. He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’
But wait, there’s more! Next, he has ‘loathsome sores…from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head’. There’s no escape from these sores. Job is reduced to sitting in the ashes and scratching them.
We’re not fabulously wealthy like Job here, but many of us have known grief, pain, sadness, even suffering. Perhaps it’s hard to identify with Job the blameless gazillionaire, but maybe we can identify a bit more with Job in his suffering. Perhaps ‘the man from Uz’ feels more like ‘one of us’ now.