When Days End With Why? The End?

Job 42 (NASB on YouVersion)

How many pithy little sayings exist about reading the Bible to discover all the answers to life? I've lost track No car could hold the bumper stickers. It just isn't that clear. We pull out the Bible and discover it is no self-help manual to alleviate all our woes. You'd think here with Job, God would make this incredibly clear but instead we find a story – broken, indirect, meandering...just like life.
If you want answers, you've got to look between the lines – in the gaps. Life isn't prime-time, it is the commercial breaks.

In the encounter with God does Job discover answers? No. Instead, Job is led into the power and wonder of creation. Not an explanation from God, but an overwhelming experience of God that came from a desperate need FOR God.

In his book “Have a little faith”, Mitch Albom talks about meeting an ex drug addict who commits his life to the gospel of Jesus Christ and becomes a true disciple.  He opens a rundown church called “I am my brother’s keeper”  in the middle of downtown Detroit with a hole in the roof, no money, no heat, and parishioners who can offer nothing more giving their broken shattered lives of crime and addiction to Jesus Christ. Mitch starts the book as Jewish skeptic yet as he comes to know the pastor and struggle with his own faith; he reflects on how little this church has and compares it to others he has heard of. Then Mitch writes...
"I thought about how churches and synagogues usually build memberships. Some run schools. Some host social events. Some offer singles nights, lecture series, carnivals and sign-up drives. Annual dues are part of the equation.
At I am My Brother’s keeper, there were no dues, no drives, no single nights. Membership grew the old-fashioned way: with a desperate need for God."

Job's desperate need FOR God brings the experience WITH God and us to our passage, and another “between the lines” moment with translation.
Translation of 42:6:
NRSV: “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
But there are problems with that closing statement.
“I retract. I even take comfort for dust and ashes.”

But the phrase “dust and ashes” is found throughout Scripture and readily understood and associated with our mortality. A more accurate translation is given by Stephen Mitchell ... “Therefore I will be quiet, comforted that I am dust.”

In coming face to face WITH God, what should give us pause, Thomas Long notes, is that Job is not reduced to dust and ash. No, Job discovers the desperate truth that he is not God, something we all need to discover – truly. God is God and we are not. He discovers the answer that theologian Ireanaus later theorized – this world God has made is not a wealth-making world, god-making world, pleasure-satisfying world – it is a soul making world. Fallen though it is, harder than God had designed, yet all things, good and evil – will form our souls.

It is a journey we do together, as Job discovered, even though we maybe lonely in a crowd of friends. God addresses this as well with Job's friends. It is a reminder that we need to be, no we MUST be careful with our words and our rush to speak for God. “What if we DO live by the picture of God these friends of Job have painted?” Even they will be forgiven as we are reminded that God will listen to the prayer of those who seek after Him.

“And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he had prayed for his friends …”
“and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.”
A ridiculous amount of stuff. So much, in fact, that it becomes meaningless. Or maybe again, we should read between the lines...

Contrast with chapter one:
Restless control to peaceful freedom
The friends and Job’s family and friends
A Focus on the sons to …
Mysteriously, the shift is to the daughters whose names mean Dove, Cinnamon, Eye Shadow. The daughters were the most beautiful in all the land and they received an inheritance along with the brothers. Oh yeah, who are the brothers? They go unnamed. Which leads translator and professor Stephen Mitchell to note, “There is something enormously satisfying about this prominence of the feminine at the end of Job. … It is as if, once Job has learned to surrender, his world too gives up the male compulsion to control. The daughters almost have the last word … We can’t quiet figure out why they are so important, but we know that they are.”

The world is turned upside down OR maybe right side up: God’s ways are not our ways. We assume the rules of our culture are God’s rules. But it ain’t necessarily so. God doesn't play by our rules – his are the one's that count, the rules are the rules of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus reminded us, do you remember the story? The wheat and the weeds would grow up together. Rejoice with those who rejoice! BUT weep with those who weep.

I look around now as, I have journied my own road of suffering and this story of Job and I wondered, in this soul making world, how is my soul shaping up? How is yours? God is an enconomist – he wastes nothing – it all matters. I have looked back on my own mission statement and come to realize God intends to make every moment of my life matter. And this is my mission and mantra – to make moments matter. The moments between the lines – the commercial breaks.

So what about you? Will you continue to grasp at prime time opportunities or will you begin to see in your own suffering, that life IS in the commercial breaks? Will you begin to READ and LIVE between the lines? It is there, after all, where you will find God.


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