“Is not calamity for the unrighteous
and disaster for the workers of iniquity?
Does he not see my ways
and number all my steps?”
Most of Job is about conflicts. Below I’ve divided the major conflicts (as I see them) into their own categories. For some, I’ve just let Job do the talking. For others I’ve tried to dive in a bit myself.
A Just God Who Sees Everything, but Doesn’t Punish the Unjust
“How often is it that the lamp of the wicked is put out?
That their calamity comes upon them?
That God distributes pains in his anger? …
You say, ‘God stores up their iniquity for their children.’
Let him pay it out to them, that they may know it.
Let their own eyes see their destructions,
and let them drink of the wrath of the Almighty….
Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power;
they rise up when they despair of life.
He gives them security, and they are supported,
and his eyes are upon their ways.”
A God Who Knows Our Suffering Intimately, but Lets It Happen
“Oh, that I were as in the months of old,
as in the days when God watched over me,
when his lamp shone upon my head,
and by his light I walked through darkness…
when the Almighty was yet with me,
when my children were all around me…”
I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.
At the moment, I’m not seeing a particular verse that highlights this in Job, but I felt the conflict of it during my reading. The only reason why Job would cry out for conversation with God is if the God he knows both knows Job and is known by Job on an intimate level. How else would Job understand what it is to be righteous? How else would he have the confidence to speak out his troubles? And how could a God who listens (and responds) do so without knowing and understanding Job’s heart and suffering?
But if you have an all-knowing, all-loving God, who feels and sees our suffering, who is in control of everything—then how can you explain crap happening? If God loves us, why do kids die, or autoimmune diseases exist, etc. etc.?
Bringing this down to a personal level, how I can go out and sob in a field till I almost throw up, and God can know all that pain and confusion, but still let stuff happen?
It’s sort of hard because it’s not like it’s a particular sin I’m struggling with. I mean, maybe it’s a sin to be too fond of my body? But I really don’t think I’m idolizing my health. I feel like stuff’s out of my control and I’m just sitting there helplessly. I can cry about it and mope and be hurt and confused but it’s just going to happen.
I guess Job would say you have to just keep talking.
A God Who Values the Righteous, but Lets Them Suffer
“I was eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.
I was a father to the needy,
I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know…
I smiled on them when they had no confidence,
and the light of my face they did not cast down…
I lived like a king among his troops,
like one who comforts mourners.”
I think that is a beautiful passage and description of the Job we’re talking about. Not the ruined, confused, hurt Job, but Job as he was when his “punishment” descended.
In Job’s final appeal, he begs God for justice. He asks for his eyes to be open to any area of sin in his life, whether it be a sin against his family (31:9-12), sin in his job or household (31:13-15), sin in his community or relationships, or selfishness, revenge or fear (31:16-34), or even sin against the earth itself (31:38-40).
This is where Job ends his monologues. He still claims to be righteous, but he begs God to hear, to answer, and to give him understanding.
“Though he slay me, I will hope in him;
yet I will argue my ways to his face.”
“I would know what he would answer me
and understand what he would say to me.”