Job’s True Message
Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?
Indeed it is. And Job’s fabled patience is needed in heavy doses. The news of escalating persecution of faith professed is heart wrenching; downright discouraging is the awareness that prejudice of every sort still has a hold on us; and that devaluation of human life actually has growing legislative lobby power is most disheartening.
So let’s take a closer look at good old Job and his story. First off, we must know that to arrive at the end of Job’s book in its present form is to witness Job’s complete salvation and restoration; by God’s love and generosity, his family and his property are restored. Job rides off into the sunset—a happy ending!
But what if I were to tell you that the happy ending is not the original ending to the book and that in the original composition he is left destitute? Well, sorry to report, that IS the truth. The “epilogue,” say the scholars, is “awkwardly inserted” and distracts from the true meaning and conclusion of the story of Job. The message is: “You are in relationship to God the Almighty and that is all that you need.” The message IS NOT: “Hang in there and everything will turn out alright.
Why is getting Job’s true message so important?
It is extremely important because we, who would strive to do all that we can to pull our world back from potential undoing and disaster, need to realize that God’s indwelling (that is, our communion with him in Jesus, his Son, and by power of His Holy Spirit) is all that we need—actually all that really matters! Remember Jesus’ question: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but at the same time lose his very soul?” There are those in the world who survive horrendous challenges, against all odds; and then there also those in the world (sometimes just living next door to “the lucky ones) who, like Job, lose every thing they have ever known and loved on this earth. In the end, Job’s hard lesson learned is that life lived here is not about here, but about being in relationship to God, our Salvation, in order to one day get there—God’s perfect heaven.
For those who see it otherwise, that prayer and patience should guarantee a happy sunset to ride off into, there could be as a resultant an attack on personal faith or, worse, an abiding anger at God, which may also produce a profound despair. “Why did THEY (of all people) get their house back and we didn’t, when we have kept God’s commandments, gone to church regularly and used our envelopes?!”
Finally, the Gospel of Jesus proclaims his desire to cure. Well, why not cure this mess this world is in? Again, that would be a cure on earthly terms. God’s cure comes when the faithful and willing to show others the power of love to bring about peace, when members of a faith community love enough to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. For the true Christian, no matter the injustice or the pain, only the promise of heaven is required—tough enough to accept sometimes, but true. The ultimate prize is never restored goods (all your land, your goats, and your children) or even your health; the ultimate prize must always be God—God’s self. This is our Faith and we are proud to profess it in Jesus our Lord!