Job : Seeing in the Dark
Hold up the book and mention it can be borrowed and also there is one in our library.
One of the books our Book Discussion group read this year was The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey. That bible, of course, was what we know now as the Old Testament. I have selected his chapter on Job, which he titled Job: Seeing in the Dark, to talk about this morning.
How many of you have read the Book of Job in the Old Testament? It is the story of a righteous man named Job whose life had been blessed with wealth, a loving family and many worldly joys. One day Satan makes a sort of a wager with God. Poor Job must undergo terrible tragedies to determine if Job loves God because of his faith or for the blessings God has bestowed on him. God allows Satan to hurl whatever he wants at Job, but he must not take his life. So Job becomes very ill, his family was all destroyed, and he lost all his possessions. A few of his friends came to spend time with him and analyze why these terrible things had happened to him. Each had his own theory, but they all boiled down to the fact that Job must have sinned and God was punishing him. Job insisted he had had done nothing to deserve these calamities and ended up demanding an audience with God. There are many layers to the story, and you need to read it for yourself, but one of the questions is whether or not we believe that we should love God for the rewards he may give us for doing so, or just because he is who he is. Do we have faith in God because we hope to get something out of it, even if only a life after death? Or do we love God with no strings attached? For myself, I need to remind myself daily of his grace in his forgiveness to me and of his desire for me to love him, and therefore, love each other. I can understand God’s love for me by equating it to the love I have for my children. I will love them and want the best for them until the day I die, whether or not I approve of some of their actions and words.
Most people, when asked what the Book of Job is about, would say “pain and suffering.” Yancey contends that is not the central theme, but that it is about faith. Instead of putting God on trial and questioning why he does these bad things to us, Yancey contends it is Job who is on trial–his integrity, his trust in his God. It is about how Job will react. Calamities that happen to us do test our faith in a most extreme form. But Yancey tells us that God told Job how insignificant his troubles were relative to the whole universe and how little Job knew of “the big picture.” It should help us put our troubles in perspective. Maybe terrible things are happening to us right now, but we need to keep our eyes on our faith in God, not on our troubles. We have to understand that this life probably will have difficulties for us to endure, but God, who loves us, is with us. Job asked God “Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands?” Actually, Job was being exalted by God, not spurned. God was letting his own reputation ride on the response of a single human being. During Job’s trial, God seemed absent, but in a sense, God had never been more present.
If you were Job, how would you respond in his situation?