Job: A Dialog


THE SCENE:

Job was a prosperous and happy man, and he was obedient to God. Satan said: If I make him suffer, he will turn from you.

God said: I give you permission. 

Satan took Job’s wealth and family from him, replaced his health with disease, and reduced him to utter misery until he was filthy and sitting in a heap, scratching his sores with pottery shards.

Three friends came to find him in his state: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. A young man was with them, too. They all came and sat with him for seven silent days until the silence was broken.

Job
It would have been better for me if I had never been born.

Eliphaz
God is just. To lament is to forget this. He is just disciplining you, but in the end he will take care of you because you are faithful.

Job
I don't have infinite capacity to keep hoping; this is so much more that I can bear that I wish to die. If this is discipline, what have I done to bring it?

Bildad
If you earnestly seek God, if you are pure, he will fix this.

Job
God and I are not in an argument, as if this was man to man. He has made a judgment out of a context only he understands. There is no appeal I could make that he doesn't already know I’m able to do. Whatever capacity I have to make an appeal is because he gave it to me! And right now I have no such capacity. I am beset by what God has done to me, and there is nothing I can do.

Zophar
You are refusing to see what God has for you in this. Open your heart and surrender to him, instead of judging this experience as undeserved, and you will be at peace and no longer know the suffering of this.

Job
It is easy for those who are not suffering to say there is a meaning in suffering. And anyway, here I am asking: God, what have I done to deserve all of this?

Eliphaz
Who are you to say these things? What we are saying is what the elders and those before us have always believed.

Job
You are turning against me because you do not want to admit what I now know about God.

Bildad
The unrighteous man does indeed come to suffering.

Job
I stand on the knowledge that I have done nothing to merit this. In the midst of all this, still I will recognize God when I see him in the flesh. Beware: You are calling me unrighteous in my suffering because it flatters you and saves you from having to wade into my suffering with me.

Zophar
No, this is the way the world has always been. God sees that the wicked men suffer.

Job
Never mind me—look at the world. Are the wicked really suffering? Is what you are saying observably true? (No, it is not. The wicked are untroubled.)

Eliphaz
God does not owe you an answer for your suffering; it doesn’t help him if you are corrected. I will answer: Your wickedness is as great as your wealth once was, because this is the wealth you withheld from others. Admit this, turn to God, and you will know peace.

Job
How do I turn to him? Where is he? I thought I was following in his ways and I still think this. Suddenly I am suffering. Where is God’s teaching to us even in the ways he does deal with the wicked? They go down to the peace of death and are forgotten just as everyone else.

Bildad
What could you even say to make the claim you are justified before one such as God?

Job
I know only this: I am innocent. I will not repudiate that knowledge just because I am suffering, and I have been given the fate suited to wicked men. God, if I have done something against you or your ways, show me.

Elihu
I am young. I’ve been sitting here listening to you older men, but I can’t keep my silence anymore. Job, you say God is unjust in letting you suffer? God is gracious in all the transgressions he overlooks and all the comfort he provides. You say God is not answering you? You are not listening to the ways in which God speaks.

God (to Job)
You say you have a question for me. Here are my questions to you....

Job
“I had heard rumors about you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I take back my words and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).

God (to Eliphaz)
I am angry with you and your friends. Job spoke the truth about me as best he knew it. You falsely claimed understanding of me you do not possess.

FADE OUT.

The ending of life defines the quality of life. The worst suffering Satan can inflict comes to an end, and Job saw God within it.