I’ve been reading in the Book of Job for the last few days. It’s been a while since I read it, & I really want to see it with new & fresh eyes, to approach it without preconceived ideas from past trips through the book… so I changed Bible translations to the ESV.
Lots of things are standing out to me – one is that I must acknowledge that there is a huge temptation to read the first couple of chapters of Job where the setting of his story is laid out, then to skip ahead to Job 38-42 where God intervenes & speaks to Job, & restores him. The middle part, the body of the book, complete with the back & forth between Job & his friends, has always been really tough for me to get into, let alone to carefully read or study. Maybe it was just me being lazy. Hmmm.
This time through, I’m finding that the whole “Job’s friends” section has come alive to me… I’m riveted to the interchanges Job has with Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, & Elihu.
Job, a “an upright & blameless man who feared God, & turned away from evil,” has lost his children & his possessions; he’s suffering with boils all over his body, & his wife is nagging at him to just “curse God & die.” The series of tragedies make no sense to Job, & he can think of no ‘reason’ why these things have happened to him.
His friends know, they KNOW that Job HAS to have done something to deserve what has happened to him. They know that God doesn’t punish the righteous, so if Job was truly righteous, then… You get the idea.
They’re looking at the Effect in Job’s life: the death, the loss, the health issues, & try to find the Cause. Some hidden sin in Job’s life that would have provided the Just Reason for the suffering he endured.
But they were looking in the wrong places. Drawing the wrong conclusions. And they were making Job’s terrible situation even worse in the process.
I have some perspective on the Book of Job, so it would be easy to throw rocks at his friends.
But I know that I do the same thing they did… I look for the ’cause & effect.’ Try to connect the dots. Quote (misquote?) Galatians 6 about sowing & reaping. And just like his friends, I might, just might be looking in the wrong place. At the wrong things. Drawing the wrong conclusions. Because my perspective is limited & I don’t have all the information I’d need to see it differently.
Maybe some of the difficulties I’ve wrestled (& am currently wrestling) through, things that I think I ‘know’ what the problem is, stuff I’ve been trying to ‘fix’ for days & years… is really something completely different. And maybe it has a cause that I don’t even know about, because I’ve wrongly read the effects, wrongly drawn conclusions… Hmmm.