I recently did an in-depth study of Job. Before I discuss its content, I’d like to make a few points on the nature of the book of Job as we see it today.
First, it’s written by several different scribes who didn’t all speak the same language or dialect of Hebrew. So, it’s English version is very loosely interpreted.
Secondly, it’s one of the oldest texts in the bible and it appears some of the story was added by different authors over time. For example, Job starts out with three friends but ends up with a fourth who magically appears.
Thirdly, Job’s story is clearly a parable, at least in part. It may be a legend based in fact, but a legend nonetheless. Why? Well, who was in heaven with God and Satan to come back and tell that part of the story? Without the parts that took place in heaven, Job is just a man who lost everything and kept his faith even in the face of persecution and judgment from others – an everyday occurrence!
Forth, it’s an extremely valuable legend. It contrasts what God’s versus man’s expectations are and how we should view life’s challenges.
In this popular tale, God challenges Satan to test Job’s commitment to his faith in and knowledge of God. Satan kills Job’s kids, his wife turns on him, he loses his wealth and health, and the elders of his people try to convince him to get over his grief but Job insists that God allowed these things to happen so he needed to feel the burn of it. Job pointed out that hiding your pain is dishonest. He argued that following in the footsteps of his elders to do so would only keep him as Godless and ignorant as them. No matter how long the elders debated with him, he maintained his position, he would weep, complain, contemplate and question God, mourn, and grieve as God saw fit because it was honest and was the whole point of his tragic experience. His logic was if we go through something and don’t allow ourselves to experience the natural response of that thing, we render it purposeless – it’s all for nothing.
Now unless you study biblical Hebrew, you may not know that this is what the story is about. It balls down to the propensity of well-meaning people can lead us to glaze over feelings the grief, loss, and pain which are intended to cause us to reflect and grow. In the process, those same people become offended enemies of truth and workers of iniquity. Still, through it all Job was given the chance to minister truth to his elders and in defending the true nature of their God, he found the strength to endure.
So, did God destroy a good family for no reason? Well, first answer this. Aren’t good families destroyed for no reason today and every day?
What the story of Job attempts to teach us is how to be sustained in the face of such destruction. Feel the burn of life and let it make us stronger and wiser. People will die, spouse will turn against spouse, wealth will be lost, friends will be offended by your truth and your pain, bad health will get you down sometimes. These things are inevitable for most, if not all, of us. Rather or not we believe God is responsible, it’s our reality. Job provides us with a purpose for it all, a light at the end of our pain. It’s that simple.
The book of Job can be summed up like this:
When you’re going through it, don’t try to hide from it, feel it. Trust that there is purpose in your pain!
The Book of Job, Aleppo Manuscript