I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are a breath. -- Job 7:16
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Me and Job
I am always skittish of verses from Job because you have to be very aware of the context. In this case, though, it is Job himself speaking, and we pretty well know the context.
Perhaps it is only me, but there are days when I could say this. Just let me die. Why does this have to go on and on? I shouldn’t complain because I don’t have health issues. Everything in my life is fairly stable. Yet, I cannot help feel that I disappoint everyone. I don’t mind screwing things up for myself. I don’t like to fail other people, cause anguish to others, or cause other people more work or to be burdened in some way. I would just like for everyone around me to be happy.
You might look at my desire and think it’s noble or self-sacrificing, but there’s something amiss with it. Obviously, no matter what I do, it’s not going to make everybody happy. It’s kind of like the political concept of utopia. It’s unrealistic. There’s an aspect of it that attributes more power and significance to my life than is appropriate.
Job was a wealthy, powerful man. He was a man who took charge of things and took care of his family. When Job spoke, people listened. Surely such a successful man must be wise, and he was. Even the wisest of us, though, are fools compared to God.
It’s been my practice since I was a kid to take the heavy end of the load. I have always taken the hardest, dirtiest part of any task when I could. Part of that stems from the fact that I worked so much with my father and that he was in his forties when I was born. He was tough and all for his age, but he was also ready to take it a little easier by the time I was old enough to do man-sized labor. He let me have those rough jobs, not only because my main skills were brute force and awkwardness, but to toughen me up and teach me. The older and stronger and tougher I got, the more work I was able and expected to do. There was nothing wrong with that, but I did get to thinking that I should be able to do about anything and handle it all myself.
That was a pretty simple world on the old farm. I could have most of the answers most of the time. The world I live in now is not so simple. I feel a kinship with Job in this, too. Job was doing what he knew to do. Everything worked the way it was supposed to work. Everything made sense. Job’s world was straightforward: Do right and be blessed; do wrong and suffer.
Except that’s not the way the world is.
I am not the center of things. There are billions of other humans alive at this moment. Billions of others have lived and died while creating, shaping, and shading all that we must face and interact with today. Aside from humanity, all of creation impinges upon us, from the deer that darts in front of our car to the virus that makes our heads hurt and our noses run.
My job, the purpose and destiny of my existence it not to fix all that. I am not a failure if I can’t. God asks only that I do what I can, that I play my part, and endure. We really are in something bigger than us, and that’s what the Lord showed Job in the end. He never answered all of Job’s questions. He never explained the reasons for his loss and suffering. He just revealed Himself as the center of it. It was not about Job. It’s not about me, either.