Job 6-7: Are you mad at the world?
JOB ARTWORK USED BY PERMISSIONCOURTESY OF KINGSTONE COMICS (https://kingstone.co/)
“What is man, that You make much of him,
That You fix Your attention upon him?
You inspect him every morning,
Examine him every minute.
Will You not look away from me for a while,
Let me be, till I swallow my spittle?
If I have sinned, what have I done to You,
Watcher of men?
Why make of me Your target,
And a burden to myself?” (Job 7:17-20 JPS)
Are you mad at the world?
Job 6-7 is Job’s first response to his friends, and it’s a mix of addressing Eliphaz and God. First to Eliphaz’s suggestion that Job has sinned, Job responds with how useless his friend’s advice and companionship has been, like a mirage in the desert! Then he wants God to acquit him of the injust treatment. He’s alluding now to this, but later he goes deeper and it will eventually get him in hot water, which would probably have felt good on his sores. He wants justice, wants God to be held to account for this. It’s almost as if he’s scoffing at God.
“What have I done, Watcher of Men?”
Here we have a reference that reminds us in this drama of the heavenly scene in chapter 1. God watches us. And this view of God is like the 1989 view of God put forth in the movie Jill I saw on our honeymoon that same year: Beaches. Remember the song on the soundtrack of that movie? I was playing with my wedding ring in that movie and dropped it, and it rolled down the slanted theater and, bless my soul, it got stuck in the soda and popcorn flick-stick on the floor just a couple rows ahead. I got it back, and Jill had her first eye-roll over my ring. I’ve never really taken it off again, until the day I grounded a screwdriver to positive, negative car battery and my ring, and it smarted. You know those cartoons where a bump rises quickly on a person’s head. This was no cartoon. I yanked the ring off and the blister grew before my very eyes. I still have a scar under my ring, like those ring tattoos folks get these days. Was I talking about Job?
OK, Job’s view of God is like the song, “God is watching us,” but we don’t get the idea that God cares so much about the world. God is watching us, God is watching us, God is watching us, from a distance. The last line disappoints. The lines rise and rise in expectation, then rather than incarnation, rather than coming closer, interested and helpful, loving and anticipating contact with us, God stays far away, disinterested we assume, unhelpful, uncaring about what’s happening to us down here on earth. That’s the view of Job here. And we’ve done nothing wrong. What have I done to deserve all this, God? What have I done to deserve such a messed up world with all this plastic in the ocean, all this crime, with our country going to pot, with my family problems, with sickness, with deaths I didn’t see coming. God what have I done to deserve this?
Now we can enter the story and understand where Job is coming from. It’s an ancient story, but it’s not so far removed, is it? We’re right there. Stuff happens. We don’t think we’re deserving of it all. Yes, there are many guilt and shame wracked people walking our world, and maybe you are one of them. But for every one like that, there’s a Job.
Maybe you haven’t lost children, livestock, and maybe you are not covered head to toe with sores so that you must find a potsherd, but you are still mad at the world that God gave you, mad at the condition of things around you, made at politics, mad at other people’s opinions about politics, mad at your faltering body, the cancer, the sores, the aches and pains, and as I write this my shoulders ache.
I’m lamenting my creaky knees and dreading running tomorrow because I don’t like the pain that comes with the runner’s high. I am so blessed but I can put myself in the place of Job and say, “what have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?!” What about you? Do some soul-searching with me. Job is everyman, remember? We’re supposed to hear this story and enter into it.
Help us enter this human tragedy as the story calls us to.
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.