There are countless analyses on the book of Job that cover the key issues in the story, the importance of what Job’s friends say, what Job says about himself, and what God finally answers. But as I finished reading the book this week in my Bible study, I have to admit I felt a bit let down as I read the epilogue to the tale.
Why were you disappointed, you might say. After all, Job receives all that he lost and more for the rest of his life. He gets to understand that the questions he is asking of God are above his pay grade, issues to which a human mind cannot begin to perceive the true answers. He never learns that all his suffering is due to what amounts to a bet between God and Satan, but even if he had known, the answer to the additional questions of God that knowledge might illicit are really explained by the same reasoning God gives Job when He allows the persecuted man to stand up before his God.
No, my disappointment was more from a storyteller’s perspective because this story, which has kept me riveted to the Word for chapter after chapter, somehow leaves an important human perspective out in the end. After his encounter with the Almighty and the return of his worldly possessions, how did Job cope?
How we cope is what makes a good story. We get to see how Job copes with his initial disappointment. He mourns his losses, claims his righteousness, and demands his day in court before the Ultimate Judge.
But, how would you cope with the rest of your life after going through the tremendous loss and physical pain that Job experienced? Surely, Job loved his new children, but wouldn’t he always be torn up about the children he lost? Wouldn’t there always be whispers in the community, despite the testimony of Job’s friends, as to what had happened to Job and why?
God controls the sun, moon, and stars. He told the ocean how far to reach. He created and controls even the leviathan. But knowing that compared to God, we are as intelligent as humans consider a flea doesn’t necessarily make it easier to cope with the challenges that the world throws at us. It’s hard to give away to God the need to know the reason why. When God says it’s on a need to know basis and we don’t need to know, we are truly challenged to believe that He has numbered every hair on our heads–“whom shall we fear?”
Job didn’t worry. He believed, worshipped, and allowed God to give him the strength to carry on. There’s a lesson to learn here.
But I would still have loved to see inside Job’s head as he coped through the rest of his life. Coping through my own life could use all the Biblical examples it can get.