I first befriended Job as a graduate student at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA. Professor Nahum Glatzer (editor, The Dimensions of Job, Schocken, 1969) analyzed the distinctive views of Job’s three friends. Poor Job! They offered only variations on a single theme: his sin causes his suffering. Dr. Glatzer’s class motivated me to read commentaries as well as the book of Job over the next several decades. I befriended Job:
- because he struggles with the universal problem of evil. Not everyone will agree with the answer the book gives, or even that the book gives an answer, or that the book gives only one answer. In a heroic struggle for answers to evil, however, God speaks.
- because he is so human. After he survives a succession of incredible disasters, he expresses the kind of emotion you and I would in similar circumstances. He’s depressed, negative, hopeless, and bitter. He’s also angry with God. Paranoid at the thought of confronting Him, he nevertheless relentlessly pursues Him.
- because the God he meets is patient, gracious, and yet sovereign. Because Job’s God speaks to him personally, he can also speak to me. Although God never reveals the reason for Job’s suffering, he never condemned Job, either. Instead, he restored not only Job’s fortunes, but also his usefulness as an intercessor. Job learned to forgive.
- because, when I found my life turned upside down with our son and daughter-in-law’s chronic illness 25 years ago, I found him an empathic figure. Life at times brings an intractable problem (or two). Unable to change our circumstances, we learn to live with limitations. Within those limitations, Job’s God still works.
If you haven’t already done so, wouldn’t you also like to befriend Job?
Gordon S. Grose, Ph.D.
Writer, Speaker & Messenger of Hope