The story of Job always surprises…always more to reflect on, more to notice in the monologues about God. Each time I read it, its like watching a footy replay and hitting the slow-mo as various players take the ball and knock-on. “There! Right there is where they lose the game” I shriek. And contrary to what we might think it isn’t the moment that the 3 friends open their mouths. Often they start strong stating great truth about God’s sovereignty but soon they fall into the error of locking God into a fixed mode of dolling out prosperity or punishment according to our behaviour.
Instead, I think one of the deep lessons of Job is that God acts in ways that reflect His deeper knowledge of the world, mankind and the paths of history …and His purposes and plans that are ultimately at stake.
These last few days have seen mindless injustice in the world—in the streets of Sydney and in Pakistan. We may be tempted to characterise God as uncaring or impotent because He doesn’t intervene. And yet, God is allowing the world’s rejection of Him to be its own judgement for a season. Even so, He is working all things to come under the headship of Jesus at just the right time. “…when the times will have reached their fulfilment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” Eph 1:10
I also like what Glenn Blackley had to say yesterday (repeated below).
“In spite of what Job felt or thought, God was in control of Job’s situation. Job was not alone, God was uncovering levels of pride in Job that could only be exposed revealing how the God who was control of the universe and who cared for the natural world was intimately involved with Job’s pain. God had a goal in mind all along. What he asked Job to do was to trust him”
Similarly, pride in the Corinthian believers is being not so subtly exposed by Paul. Throughout this letter Paul has parodied the Corinthian fixation with glory and power ministries. Paul acted out the ugliness of boasting in power and strength, in order that he might lead them to a faith that sees weakness and suffering as a place to showcase trust and reliance on God. This how Paul embraced weakness in his own Job experiences—his shipwrecks, beatings and the thorn in his flesh that was unexplainably never removed. Instead Paul learned to say, “We are glad whenever we are weak”.
What a profound journey with Job, and with Paul. From here our faithful daily reading community will take up a different set of reflections, advent. In this next week our readings of suffering gives way to hope—hope of a Prince of Peace. Hope of the world.