Last Sunday, we saw the beginning of Job. Today, we’re seeing it’s end. The story began with God and Satan, the Accuser, playing a game. They want to see if there anyway that Job, an upright person who is faithful to God, would curse God. God empowers Satan to take away his family, his wealth, and his health. He’s left with his wife and three friends who come to comfort him. In a dialogue that lasts the bulk of the book, Job’s friends try to convince him to repent. They believe that his punishment is caused by something he did. If Job returns to God, God will turn his life around. But Job, knowing that he did nothing wrong, instead argues his innocence and a desire to take God to court. Job’s words are directed to his friends and to God. Job dwells on suffering, pain, and what kind of world we live in. It’s at the end of the book when God finally responds.
God never answers Job’s questions. Instead, God points to creation. God asks Job if Job was at the beginning when the universe was made and if Job can create like God can. God takes Job on a whirlwind trip through all of creation – from the stars to the sea monsters that lurk in the deep. Job sees God’s “bigness” and can only affirm his smallness. God challenges Job to take on God’s attributes and defeat the wicked. Job, knowing he’s only human, cannot accept the challenge.
In the end, Job admits that an assumption he carried isn’t true. His goal to bring God to court was built on the assumption that human beings are the center of God’s creation. God affirms, however, that humans are a part of God’s reality. The summation of everything is bigger than just the human experience. Humans might not be the center of the universe but they, along with the rest of creation, do receive God’s love and care. Suffering is a part of what humans experience but God isn’t absent and God doesn’t desire our suffering. Instead, God is present with us through it because God loves us. And God doesn’t run away from our suffering but walks through it, even to the cross.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 6/12/2016.