Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Some closing thoughts on Job

So today's daily lectionary passages (which can be found here: ) include the last bit of the book of Job, which we have been going through and occasionally talking about.  
We have talked about it enough, probably, but as I was reading the 'resolution' of the story in the closing verses a few things really stuck out to me.  So, as is my custom, I thought I would share them with you. 
We have talked about it a lot here, and we are all familiar with the story of Job, but the first thing that hit me as I was reading this morning, was just how untrue the previous statement really is.  We, I don't think, are not familiar with the story of Job - at least not the whole story.  We certainly know about a part of the story, a part of his story filled with heartache, difficulty and distress.  But the truth, and the part that I think we miss, is that that is really just a part of the story of Job and doesn't give us anything resembling a full picture of Job's life.  What I am meaning and trying to say here is that if we only focus on the difficulty that Job encountered and the tragedy that he endured (which was real and not to be minimized) we do Job a great disservice and we have missed the essence of his life and story.  
Let me give an example of what I mean.  Like many people, I did not find my soul mate and wife in high school or college.  And in the years I lived before I met Traci, I went through my share of heartache and heartbreak.  I had one particularly difficult time in College.  Now, if all you knew about me and my story was my experiences during that time of my life, would you have a full picture of who I was and my story? 
Of course not.  And from my perspective you would have, in fact, missed all of the best and most important parts.  You would know nothing of who I am today, who I have become because of the relationship with Traci that God has blessed me with.  You would know nothing of the joy that has brought me in so many ways.  You would know nothing of the joy we share in raising Charlie and Jack.  If you haven't picked up on it, I think if you only knew about that part of my life you would know, well, nothing really.  
The same is true of Job, and the rest of the story, the part we don't really know much about is critical to having a proper perspective and for really knowing what the 'story of Job' is all about.
If we payed attention at the beginning of the story, we know that Job was very blessed with material things and a wonderful family - The Devil told God these blessings were the only reason he was faithful, remember?.  
What do we know about the end or the rest of the story.  We find it all in today's readings from Job chapter 42.  In that chapter we find that, after the time of suffering and trial, God 'restored the fortunes of Job'.  We hear about the blessings that he received materially, we here about the restoration and blessing of his family.  There is a lot there to take in, but it can maybe best be summed up by the final sentence: 'Job died, old and full of days'.  That we would all be blessed with that ending - a full, and happy life.  
We are getting long here, so I will get to the point, a point that I finally understood when I read that after his suffering Job lived another 140 years.  Our suffering is real, and painful and not to be dismissed, and it comes to us even when we are upright and faithful to God.  
But we can't lose perspective.  When we are faithful to God, our suffering and trials, no matter how deep and painful are noting in comparison to the life of blessing and grace we have.  
The story of Job is not a story of suffering, in the course of his life the time of his suffering was minuscule (less than 1%!!!).  No the story of Job, and the story of all of our lives if we are faithful to God and seek to follow Christ is a story of God's relentless, enduring and never ending blessing.
The full story of Job is the story of the blessings of God.  This is the same story God wants to tell with your life.  We you let him?

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