I just finished reading the book of Job not long ago. I avoided it for a while because I felt I wasn't in the right emotional state to read it. Some difficult circumstances in the last several months had left me a bit fragile. However, after the new year Job and I got to know each other again. And once again, as I had before, I fell in love. I don't love Job because it is an easy book or a neat and tidy book or a book with all the answers. On the contrary, Job is messy, real, and leaves many questions unresolved. I love Job because he is transparent. He is honest. He doesn't hide the depth of His grief. He speaks of depression that causes him to wish for death. He rails in the face of pain. He doesn't just put a happy face on a broken heart. I love Job because he's not afraid to plead his case even when he is the only one left on his team. He begs for an audience with the Almighty. We always quote the famous verse, "Though he slay me, I will hope in Him," but we often forget that there is a second part, "Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him" (13:15). Job inspires me because he is CONFIDENT of his innocence before God - even when his circumstances and his best friends say otherwise. Would I be that confident in the same setting...or would I begin to doubt myself? Job delights me with his biting sarcasm to friends who doubt him. (Don't believe me? Check out Job 12:1-3, 13:3-5, 16:1-5, 26:1-4. Wonderful stuff.) Job challenges me because even when he has no clue what God is doing, he refuses to question God's character or His goodness. He acknowledges that He can't find God, but he knows God can find him (23:8-10).
Besides falling in love with Job while reading, I also saw another facet of my Heavenly Father which causes me to love Him all the more. I love the fact that God doesn't sugar coat this book. He doesn't soften Job's cries of grief or mute his violent protests. He lets us see the depths of pain unmasked. God doesn't intervene right away. He lets us see one of His best and brightest saints in real life - untidy, questioning, angry, depressed - certainly not what we usually see on Sunday morning! God chooses not to answer Job's questions or his challenges. God never tells Job that he passed a huge test and showed Satan up in his "wager" with God. God simply says, "look at Me." And Job is reminded that he is not owed an answer. The fact that God shows us the "ugly" side of things actually makes me trust Him more. God is not a trickster; a sideshow huckster who promises one thing and delivers another. God gives us the truth - even when it's not pretty. But the really beautiful thing is that nothing is ever wasted - not even the darkest moments. Our God can redeem EVERYTHING and use it for His glory. The shattered remnants of our world can give rise to monuments of His grace.
As a part of a broken world, I need the book of Job. I need to be reminded that it's OK that life is not always tidy and I don't always have the answers. What I do have is a sovereign God who is in His essence loving and good, who took on flesh and bore my punishment as part of His work to redeem creation, who will one day make all things new and will heal forever all the brokenness I see around me. I have the assurance of His steadfast love even when I cannot find His hand. What a blessed hope! What a wonderful God! How kind of Him to give us this honest, messy book to show us another facet of Himself.