Our off-lectionary study of Job continues with these passages for Sunday, August 7, 2016:
Job 14: 7-15 and Job 19: 23-24
In these passages we see that Job still wrestles with how to handle his suffering and where to find God in this suffering. In these passages, we see similar themes that careful readers see throughout the Bible.
Job finds hope--strange, inexplicable hope--in the middle of his extreme suffering. He doesn't have the same kind of hope in an afterlife that twenty-first century readers might have. He senses that other parts of nature might have more hope of an immediate redemption, new sprouts, and that humans die and dry up as a lake might.
Yet he also professes belief that he will see God, and Job yearns for this time, even as he admits to not understanding how it will happen. Job's response feels familiar to me.
I think of the Easters that I have celebrated when the Easter message rang hollow to me, when death felt more victorious than God. I felt surrounded by happy people who felt more reassurance than I did in that Easter message. In these times, I like the message of Job, the message of the Psalms--I like these texts that show us the human response to God and to suffering.
I know that the disadvantage to a free will world is that God cannot just sweep in and make everything OK.
But I also know that the message of that weaves its way through our Bible, with the Easter culmination, the promise that Death will not be the final answer. We do not know how and when Death will be defeated--at least, I'm not going to try to engineer God that way. We know the how of the beginning of the defeat of the Death culture: we have spent days hearing that part of the story. But we don't know the future part.
But we do have God's promise that Death doesn't have the final word. We see it as a constant theme in our texts, and we see that announcement throughout all of creation. And even when we feel the despair of Job, even when we doubt this promise, God will not abandon us.