Monday, February 21, 2011

Job 14

Job 14
1 “Mortals, born of woman,
are of few days and full of trouble.
2 They spring up like flowers and wither away;
like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.
3 Do you fix your eye on them?
Will you bring them before you for judgment?
4 Who can bring what is pure from the impure?
No one!
5 A person’s days are determined;
you have decreed the number of his months
and have set limits he cannot exceed.
6 So look away from him and let him alone,
till he has put in his time like a hired laborer.

7 “At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
8 Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.
10 But a man dies and is laid low;
he breathes his last and is no more.
11 As the water of a lake dries up
or a riverbed becomes parched and dry,
12 so he lies down and does not rise;
till the heavens are no more, people will not awake
or be roused from their sleep.

13 “If only you would hide me in the grave
and conceal me till your anger has passed!
If only you would set me a time
and then remember me!
14 If someone dies, will they live again?
All the days of my hard service
I will wait for my renewal to come.
15 You will call and I will answer you;
you will long for the creature your hands have made.
16 Surely then you will count my steps
but not keep track of my sin.
17 My offenses will be sealed up in a bag;
you will cover over my sin.

18 “But as a mountain erodes and crumbles
and as a rock is moved from its place,
19 as water wears away stones
and torrents wash away the soil,
so you destroy a person’s hope.
20 You overpower them once for all, and they are gone;
you change their countenance and send them away.
21 If their children are honored, they do not know it;
if their offspring are brought low, they do not see it.
22 They feel but the pain of their own bodies
and mourn only for themselves.”
Is there anything more beautiful in all the books in all the world? The entire chapter of Job 14 is utterly perfect. "So look away from him and let him alone, till he has put in his time like a hired laborer." People are always praying for God's intervening into the affairs of mortals, but Job knew better. Miracles are rare. They're supposed to be. More often than not it feels as though God created the world and then walked away from it. Job felt it too. It's like when a kid leaves the nest and has to make his own way in the world. The parent has to let them go. That's what God did when he created the universe. He made it for us, and then let us go, knowing full well that we'd return to him one day. Maybe we demanded our freedom. But we had to experience material life with all the joys and all the pains that go with it if we were ever to be anything more than mere puppets.

You have to read Job with the same honesty he had when he said these things. One moment he's full of understanding. The next he's full of questions that almost end in despair. One moment he's certain of his place in the world. The next he feels abandoned: "Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble." He's wiser and more honest than any man the world has ever known. Theologians, philosophers, and psychologists try to make God fit into their own life's context. Job will have none of this. Some questions were meant to go unanswered, and he knows it. But it doesn't stop the questioner from making his queries known. Life is certainty followed by uncertainty over and over in a never ending cycle till: "All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come." Job bottom lines it for us. Most people think life is about survival, first of the self, then of the human race as a whole. But that's not at all what life is for. Life is about work, but not in self survival. It's about finding joy in service to others and letting go of the self. The Christian life is antithetical to politics. Politics is about getting what you want, whereas the Christian has no self and instead says, "How may I serve you?" We had Jesus to teach us this. Job had to figure it out on his own. There was never a mortal like Job.


Ann said...

Really a wonderful post, Bill.

C W Seper said...

Thanks Ann.

By the way, I saw that post at the CW group you left about my story. Thanks for that too. I did get much reaction from it, but I did get a nice note from someone there I hadn't heard from in quite a while.

Ann said...

Who, I wonder? You and I have had a long relationship with those cyberfriends over there.
Anyway, this Job piece spoke to me. Understanding then near despair. Then trust sans complete understanding which is acceptance of the Will greater than ones own. And finally just service. This is the place in which my faith resides.

Ann said...

Richard Sturch liked your Job piece very much. I posted it on FB in my group there.

C W Seper said...

I like Rich. Mark Steele (another good guy) left a note on a different post too.

I said above, "I did get much reaction from it" when I meant to say that I DIDN'T get much, but that's okay. Most people don't have any inclination to sit and read longish stories on a computer screen. The story comes down today, but may re-appear on the new blog which just went up today.

See ya in a week or two Ann. Find me some new books to read! I wouldn't have ANY if it weren't for you.