Not many stories are as powerful as the drama of Job. Notice how his story is not told within the context of the Abraham/Isaac/Jacob tradition, nor is it understood within the circumstance of Moses and the Exodus. The story of Job is set apart from the lineage of Israel. Job’s tale is its own, set outside of time.
“There once was a man in the land of Uz . . .”
A righteous man, blameless, and upright, “no one like him on the earth.” And then his loves, his living, and his life were all placed in jeopardy by an odd divine wager that unleashed mountains of troubles, oceans of despair, and miserable comforters. We hear blessing and cursing and eloquent searching. We listen to assertions of innocence and guilt. We recognize calls for judgment and justice . . .
I remember, growing up, the conventional wisdom from my childhood praised the “patience of Job.” But when I read the story for myself instead of just hearing the Sunday school version (a very important phase in the growing up process!), I realized Job wasn’t at all “patient.” Like some of the psalmists, Job doubts, complains, criticizes, argues, proclaims his righteousness, and challenges God to a contest of integrity.
What a relief for me to discover that doubt is a crucial part of faith!
Arguing with God is a time honored biblical tradition, and Job’s example shows us what faithful, honest, passionate engagement with the Divine can look like. Rather than describing Job’s faith as “patient,” it’s more accurate to say his faith was “enduring.” It is the endurance of Job that places him on our lists of biblical heroes.
Read more at Charlotte Vaughan Coyle. Living in The Story: A Year to Read the Bible and Ponder God’s Story of Love and Grace (pp. 283-292). Resource Publications. Kindle Edition.
Living in The Story readings for Week 24
Images: A183PR A destitute man complaining. Addis Ababa. Ethiopia. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.