Religion and Literature–the Book of Job

JobJames is taking his first class at GMU this summer. It is called Religion and Literature 232. He and Margarita say the professor is really interesting and a great lecturer. He is an older gentlemen, and a Scotch Presbyterian minister. They’ve studied Gilgamesh, The Book of Job and now Oedipus Rex. The professor is requiring a paper on each of these texts. It’s been awhile since James has been asked to write about spiritual things and I thought our blog readers might like to see his summary of Job. The first part was an analysis but the last part was to answer the question, “Is God just”? Here is the last part of the essay:

As I reflect on the Book of Job and the answer provided to Job by God, I have to whole-heartedly agree with God. Job suffered greatly, seemingly for no reason. He lived a righteous life, he did not lie, steal, or doubt God. However, he still lost everything. God remained silent for most of the book as Job and his friends debated about the righteousness of Job versus the righteousness of God. It was not until God spoke directly to Job that he was able to understand that he, in fact, did not need to understand the wisdom of God but only needed to accept it and be humbled to know that his wisdom is not necessary because God will always be just in His retribution. Job goes on to be pardoned and bless twofold with everything he had lost. Although God’s response to Job seems somewhat illogical and could definitely be debated that it did not follow the Retribution Theology beliefs, I believe the greatest takeaway from the Book of Job is that God’s blessings and punishments do not need to be fair to be right. 

            Job may or may not have deserved to lose all of his family, possessions, and health, but it was necessary for him to live a truly righteous life that came from a humble heart. It is only through suffering that he was able to find closeness to God and humility in his life that may not have been realized through any other path. I have asked myself many times “what did I do to deserve having Autism and not being able to control my body or speak my thoughts?” However, it is through that suffering that I have been able to grow close to God and find my faith whole-heartedly. I also give credit to my condition as the reason why my family is so close and comes together in my support. 

            God is not meant to be understood but to be trusted. The Book of Job is the perfect story, folktale, to exemplify and teach the level of trust we must have for God. Trust beyond understanding is the ultimate destination in the journey of faith. It is ironic and impactful that even in a setting such as a divine courtroom, where evidence, logic, and argument are the deciding factors of a case, it was Job’s humility and surrender to God that defied all arguments and won him pardon as well as an abundance of blessings.