In a book entitled We Shall See him as He Is, Fr. Sophrony points out that “The image of man and his likeness to the Lord state clearly that each of us may become a ‘lord’ only by overcoming the world.” The book of Job is the quintessential example of this type of suffering.
Not to say that every person must endure suffering of the “Job magnitude,” but it is helpful to use this story as a type of standard. Humanity can say, “If Job could withstand his circumstances, so can we.”
As we are reading about the issues that he faces Job certainly has much to say about his situation. We all have similar thoughts that he did when we face difficult situations. Specifically he wonders why the wicked prosper? This is persisting conundrum in the book of Job. The bulk of this parable is about Job’s pondering of this question and more. The book of Job also has a larger purpose. It continues to approach the question why do the righteous suffer? This question is never really answered directly. We are told time and time again that Job definitely was righteous. The author of Job says he is righteous – 1:1, 1:22, 2:10. God Himself says Job is righteous – 1:8, 2:3. Job’s wife admits Job is righteous – 2:9. Job confesses his righteousness – 31:1, 31:16-20, 24:28.
At the end of the book of Job I was left wondering about the previous children of Job. After Job’s conversation with God he receives all (and more) of his former wealth, and new children. The way in which the book explains the death and replacement of the children seems a little insensitive. They were replaced in much a way that a small child’s hamster would be. Very little is spoken about the children of Job or of their personal quality. If they were ethical and incorruptible followers of God, this seems like a very harsh way to get rid of them as a result of a “competition” between God and the Adversary. They could have been nearly as upright and righteous as their father. This is the main flaw that I find while reading this book. The prose in the end explains that Job gets all his animals and more and 10 new, beautiful children. What about his feelings for his former sons and daughters? Would he not still have a constant reminder of God’s punishments every day when he thought of his former children? It is easy to imagine Job being completely content with the replacement of his animals his former fortune. The replacement of his former offspring with all new and the lack of reference to the former children, make understanding the finality of this section of the bible a bit difficult for me.
I do feel like it’s a really interesting portion of the bible. I definitely consider it to be quite epic. The book of Job challenges some of the most fundamental questions related to theology. Also, it uses two types of writing styles within its pages. It begins with prose, continues the bulk of the book with poetry and then ends in prose. For my reading pleasure this is handy because I have difficulty understanding some of the poetic verses, so I can rely on prose narration to tie all the important info together. I enjoy the way the dialogue takes place in a poetic argument, however. All of the characters make snide remarks at one another, using sarcasm to disprove each point made by the other person. Also, none of the characters stick with a singular viewpoint. They change their opinion of the scenario and the way Job should react multiple times. None of the characters possess a singular viewpoint throughout the book. That being said, you can notice the thought process going on within and among the group of characters, especially Job. Their opinions evolve throughout the story. This definitely helps me to relate more to the story. I know that if I were in the position of Job I would have been ranting about every possible reason why this could’ve happened. I could image my mental observations of the scenario would become more and more radical and meanwhile my friends would be doing what they could to restrain me from doing anything extreme (in this case, blasphemy).
The dialogue between Job and his friends is very ironic. They are trying to figure out why Job is not blameless and righteous, when in actuality he is both. Both God and the Adversary acknowledge that he is indeed completely blameless and righteous. So, Job is wondering if he is a loyal follower, why he would suffer, while others who do not follow the path of God will prosper.
“They snatch the fatherless infant from the breast, and sieze the child of the poor as a pledge…Yet God does not regard it as a reproach.” (Job 24:9-12)
According to bible.org, the book of job has 6 vital lessons to teach:
A. To demonstrate that God is worthy of love apart from the blessings He provides
B. To explain that God may allow suffering as a means to purify and strengthen a person in godliness
C. To emphasize that man is unable to view life from God’s vast perspective
D. To explore the justice of God who treats the righteous with suffering
E. To demonstrate to the evil angels (Satan) that God’s practice of blessing the righteous is not a hindrance to the development of true righteousness
F. To address Mankind’s wrestling with affliction which defies human explanation
It is the third lesson that is the reason for the irony within the book of Job. Amidst all of the debating between the friends about why God would be doing these things to Job, the take-home message is that there is no reason (or at least no humanly comprehensible reason) why God does what he does. Despite all of humanities curiosity about God’s actions, there will never be an understanding.