We all love a happy ending. True love is found; problems are sorted; everyone is reconciled; the situation is saved; a job well done is completed. It is the stuff of films. Yet we long for it in “real” life too.
Job’s Reply to the Lord
No One Can Oppose You
42 Job said:
2 No one can oppose you,
because you have the power
to do what you want.
3 You asked why I talk so much
when I know so little.
I have talked about things
that are far beyond
4 You told me to listen
and answer your questions.
5 I heard about you from others;
now I have seen you
with my own eyes.
6 That’s why I hate myself
and sit here in dust and ashes
to show my sorrow.
A Happy Ending
10 After Job had prayed for his three friends, the Lord made Job twice as rich as he had been before. 11 Then Job gave a feast for his brothers and sisters and for his old friends. They expressed their sorrow for the suffering the Lord had brought on him, and they each gave Job some silver and a gold ring.
12 The Lord now blessed Job more than ever; he gave him fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand pair of oxen, and a thousand donkeys.
13 In addition to seven sons, Job had three daughters, 14 whose names were Jemimah, Keziah, and Keren Happuch. 15 They were the most beautiful women in that part of the world, and Job gave them shares of his property, along with their brothers.
16 Job lived for another one hundred forty years—long enough to see his great-grandchildren have children of their own— 17 and when he finally died, he was very old.
Job has, almost literally, been to hell and back. A man, who has apparently done little wrong in life, he has suffered much, whilst all the time having his friends question and abuse him.
Through all this, he refuses to curse God. He philosophically accepts it as his lot. Then, as suddenly as it all began, it is over. After a curious passage about catching a sea monster, which sounds rather like wrestling jelly, and a reminder that God is all-powerful and the creator of all, Job acknowledges that God is God, and will be God, Job’s problems disappear.
Wow! How simplistic that seems, that after all the struggle, everything will just be ok.
Is that your experience of life? Or are you caught up in the struggle, unable to see the end, or believe that everything will ever be alright again?
I suppose Job’s struggle can give us hope:
- if we are caught up in the struggle, we can know that it is not about something we’ve done – or not done. Bad things do happen to good people, just as they do to “bad” (and who decides who are which anyway?!)
- God is in the struggle as much as he is in the good things of life
- The struggle will one day, some how be over
That’s not to say that we will necessarily find ourselves wealthier and more blessed at the end. This is where reading the bible as a whole, and hearing the different stories helps. For Habakkuk, the struggle ends when he learns to live with the questions and ‘what ifs’
Trust in a Time of Trouble
17 Fig trees may no longer bloom,
or vineyards produce grapes;
olive trees may be fruitless,
and harvest time a failure;
sheep pens may be empty,
and cattle stalls vacant—
18 but I will still celebrate
because the Lord God
19 The Lord gives me strength.
He makes my feet as sure
as those of a deer,
and he helps me stand
on the mountains.
At times that is all I can cling on to – that God has got hold of everything, even when I can’t understand it. And to me, that is a happy ending. And I truly believe God loves each one of us as much as he loved both Job and Habakkuk.
If you’re not in that place, and I can understand if you’re not, I went to a very barren desert before I got there, know that wherever you are – God is there too. However unhappy, however painful, however frustrating the place is – God is there too, holding on to you.
I’m holding on to you,
I have nothing much else to hold on to;
I’m trusting you,
because I know I can.
I come to you in my struggles,
and ask you to hod me tight