Wednesday, August 15, 2012
There Be Dragons
One of my favorite parts of Job is when God answers him at the end. At the end (spoiler alert!) God does an amazing job of illustrating his power and care for nature. His basic point seems to be, "Hey, you're dealing with God, the creator of everything Job. My ways may be just a tiny, intsy-wincy bit more mysterious than yours... Just a little." It makes for really cool reading.
When God finishes his beautiful description of his ways in nature (I now think Leviathon has to be a dragon, forget all the commentators who think its a crocodile. I've never seen a croc breath fire or fly. I did say it was amazing), Job has an understandably short reply. I like it.
He mumbles a few quotes from God, and then says "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
When I first read this I felt sorry for Job. Of course the poor guy has been afflicted with every affliction thingy the world has to offer, Satan's buying popsicles and doing cart-wheels over the fun he's having and now God has gone off on a diatribe of who Job is dealing with. I'd despise not only myself but God if I was Job. Great!
But that's not at all the way the trajectory of the book of Job takes us. Job is on a relentless search for God and his justice. Job wants to be comforted by his God. And finally, not only does God answer Job, but Job claims with joy, "my eye sees you". Job's true torture is over and his argument is finally resolved (albeit tempered) by God. It's a beautiful thing.
My magical ESV study notes helped me out with all this. They explained that the word for "despise" denotes recognizing one's place and the word for "repent" could also be replaced with the word "comfort".
Job's search for an answer is satisfied by a window into God's world and by supreme comfort in person-hood of God. I may be over-stating this. But it seems to fit with the book to think that Job is extremely satisfied at this point.
So where am I going with all of this? I'm not exactly sure. I originally wanted to reflect on the inter-changeable nature of the words repent and comfort, but I've sort of just given you a spoiler for the ending of the book of Job.
I guess I, like Job, am comforted today just to know that this God of all creation, even dragons, actually responds to us. Not only is he aware of everything we struggle with, but he is the God of all our struggles (even the ones Satan does cart-wheels over) and, because of his own righteousness in Jesus, he continues to direct us, vindicate us, validate us, lift us up and ultimately, may I never forget this as the biggest blessing of all, give us himself. It satisfied Job, so it's good enough for me.