August 24, 2017 | by: Sharon Bruce | 1 Comments
A couple of days ago I started reading through the book of Job. I have always had a hard time with this book, railing against God’s choice to take on Satan in a bet that leaves a righteous man surrounded by his dead children, his dead servants, his dead animals and his ravaged property, looking out on the devastation from his inflamed, oozing body that is suddenly his enemy.
“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing…In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” -Job 1:22, 2:10
This is where I do sin, because, I confess, my first instinct is to accuse God. How could He do this? How could he allow a man to suffer so much because of his righteousness? Is this really all just so God can save face? Job doesn’t matter; he’s just a pawn so God can prove a point to Satan? Who is this “God of love” if he can allow this? How can I possibly trust him?
This is my fourth or fifth time reading through Job, and the more I read it, the more I think the point isn’t about God winning a bet. It’s something to do with God’s righteousness, how we don’t know what we think we know and how we deal with suffering.
I keep thinking of Job’s wife. “His wife said to him, ‘Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!’” It’s easy to view her, as the footnotes in my Bible suggest, as a simple tool of Satan. Job rebukes her swiftly and the narrative continues.
Think about who she probably was though:
She was likely the mother of Job’s dead sons and daughters—making them her dead sons and daughters.
She likely witnessed what Job witnessed, where everything that seemed secure was destroyed, much of it in a single day.
She may have had some form of faith, however weak, that was a casualty of these events.
If Job’s friends are any indication, she may well have thought Job sinned and brought God’s wrath upon the family. If that’s the case, maybe it’s better he dies so it will stop.
Maybe she wanted to die herself.
Maybe she didn’t care anymore whether she lived or died.
I’m not saying any of this to excuse her words. They were cruel, bitter and indeed foolish. However, when you really think about her as a human being and not just a prop in a story, isn’t she familiar? Her words, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” are archaic in today’s language, but not in meaning. We hear them this way in times of suffering and struggle: “It’s too hard. Give it up.” We hear them from the world, from ourselves, and from those in the Church:
It’s too alienating to live a life seeking Christ.
It’s too lonely to stay faithful in a loveless marriage.
It’s too humiliating to keep hoping in what cannot be seen.
It’s too painful to face a single life of celibacy.
It’s too risky to give.
It’s too frightening to welcome the alien.
It’s too dangerous to love.
It’s too exhausting to get back up after being knocked down for the
I think Job’s wife ran out of hope. It was blown out of her when her life exploded.
In the big picture (the one Job couldn’t see until God pointed it out to him, the one his wife perhaps never saw) is a God who does wipe away every tear, who makes things new, who loves in a way we cannot understand. I don’t know why God allowed Job’s suffering. I wrestle with that every time I read this book. But then, I don’t know why He allows Himself to suffer in pursuit of people who continually cause him pain. That’s not fair either, is it?
This is what I am saying to you: don’t give up.
Don’t ask me to give up, either.
Sharon Bruce, a current CG leader at Restoration, traded her childhood desert mountains for beaches and green. Her lush backyard garden plants display a marked respect for her Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. Sharon’s love for God and compassion for His creation shout loudest in her artwork, in her caring friendship, and in her willingness to gently re-home a slimy frog from a friend’s front porch Bromeliad to the river three miles away.