Job 2: Should we accept only good from God and not bad?
JOB ARTWORK USED BY PERMISSIONCOURTESY OF KINGSTONE COMICS (https://kingstone.co/)
Scripture: “But he said to her, “You talk as any shameless woman might talk! Should we accept only good from God and not accept evil?” For all that, Job said nothing sinful (Job 2:10 JPS)
Rewind the heavenly scene from chapter one, and you have nearly the same wording. God is again asking the Adversary about his travels and if he’s considered his servant Job, how he is such a man of integrity, then the dialogue takes an unexpected turn.
God says, “so you have incited Me against him to destroy him for no good reason.” The Adversary answered the LORD, “Skin for skin—all that a man has he will give up for his life. But lay a hand on his bones and his flesh, and he will surely blaspheme You to Your face.” So the LORD said to the Adversary, “See, he is in your power; only spare his life.” The Adversary departed from the presence of the LORD and inflicted a severe inflammation on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (Job 1:4-7 JPS).
God complains that the Adversary has incited suffering upon Job for nothing: Job kept his integrity though all was lost. Then the Adversary and God go a step further into the wager. Can we call it a wager? What else would we call it. This is one of the first steps in being honest with the text. Anyone else, humans in such a conversation, with high stakes, and we would call it some kind of wager or prideful contest. This appears to be what it is. What is at stake in the human world? What is at stake in the heavenly world?
The wager is that Job will stay faithful, even if he suffers the most gruesome bodily treatment. God gives the Adversary authority to harm Job’s body now.
Scene 5, Setting A
Like a movie, we don’t see the Adversary doing the deed, but immediately we shift from Scene 4, Setting-Heavenlies to Scene 5, Setting-Uz with Job sitting in ashes and scratching his toes to head sores with a broken piece of pottery. The first voice we hear is his wife, so utterly distraught by the loss of her children and livestock and the unrecognizable man she’s looking at in the ashheap. We don’t get Job’s wife’s name, but I’m pretty sure he name was not “Joy.”
“[Job’s] wife said to him, “You still keep your integrity! Blaspheme God and die!” (2:9 JPS)
But [Job] said to her, “You talk as any shameless woman might talk! Should we accept only good from God and not accept evil?” For all that, Job said nothing sinful” (2:10 JPS)
We already got the idea that Job is not going to blaspheme God, and according to the scenes in the heavenlies, his life is going to be preserved, so how is this going to play out?
The news spreads about Job’s plight. Three friends hear of it and plan a visit. When they arrive, they can’t even recognize their friend in the ash heap. Even before they got close, they started weeping, found ash to throw in the air to land on their heads, and tore their clothes. They were speechless for seven days and nights. They just sat there, seven days, and nights. This is long now and it was long then, too! They must have had many thoughts in those speechless days, for they seemed to fill up and let it fly, as we will see in future scenes. They had come to comfort him, but they were so stunned they had nothing to say. When they finally spoke, from the way Job will react to what they say, it seems Job was not comforted, at all.
Do you avoid contact with suffering people? What do you do when you come face to face with someone suffering? Are you silent? Do you talk? What do you say? Are your words helpful? Have you ever been a suffering person and heard unhelpful words? What were those words? My friend John Mark Hicks wrote a list of unhelpful words to say to a suffering person, and we'll run that list in tomorrow's blog post.
LORD, help us to be silent when it’s time to be silent, and to say or do something helpful when it’s time to act. Help us not to use empty or interpretive statements that only serve to deeply the wounds and cause additional grief and conflict in the suffering person. Help us to truly comfort, give courage, and love to the suffering. In Jesus the Suffering Servants Name, Amen.
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.