Authenticity

The Bible tells how Job lost all his possessions, then his children, and later his health. His wife even tells him to “Curse God and die.” He responds, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:9, 10)

I confess Job’s response mystifies me. I would want God to apologize. Job’s friends, who came to comfort him, would tell me that is presumptuous. They chided, “Can a mortal be more righteous than God?” (4:17)

Job’s friends would tell me to get a grip. They argued, “man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7) Life stinks. Get used to it.

Try telling that to a cancer patient. Does that make you cringe?

If that’s not enough, add in some guilt. That’s what Job’s friends did: “Blessed is the man whom God corrects… he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.” (Job 5:17,18)

I like Job’s response. “You [are] no help… How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove? Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat the words of a despairing man as wind?” (Job 6:21, 25-26)

I doubt Job’s friends meant to hurt him. They sought to comfort him with sincere platitudes, but these were not enough.

I like the Bible’s authenticity. It doesn’t mince words. It doesn’t sugarcoat a thing in describing Job’s suffering. He complained about losing his appetite (6:7), he felt hopeless and weak (6:11-12), he felt helpless (6:13), he couldn’t sleep (7:4), he had nightmares (7:14), he wanted to die (6:9; 7:16), and he wanted to be left alone (7:19). These are all symptoms of clinical depression.

Job’s friends did not leave him alone. They kept talking. Eventually, God showed up. He gave no explanations, no apologies. I don’t like that at all, but that doesn’t matter. God’s not obliged to please me—nor Job. He’s God, after all.

I don’t understand God. I don’t understand Job, either, but I love the way he tells the truth about how he feels. We should too. God can take it.

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