February 28 – Job 42
In chapters 38-41 God makes two speeches, each followed by a quick response from Job. After the first speech Job vows to keep his mouth shut (40:3-5); after the second, he repents (42:1-6). To this development we should wonder, what is Job repenting for? Remember, way back in the beginning God called Job blameless (1:8), and even here in chapter 42 God defends what Job said about him (42:7). Did Job actually have anything to repent over? Note Job’s confession: “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”(42:3) As we saw the last two weeks, God confronts Job primarily over his ignorance; for example, God asks him, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”(38:4) Job repents of his impertinence, his wild words, and what God called his faultfinding.(40:2)
Interestingly, as much as a suffering character is at the center of Job, the book doesn’t really cover much about suffering, and it certainly doesn’t do much explaining. Why we suffer, how God can allow suffering in the world—none of these big questions are addressed in the book. But much of Job is devoted to wisdom, and the book itself has been called a wisdom dialogue, in which the five main characters, against the backdrop of suffering, try to answer this question, “From where, then, does wisdom come?”(Job 28:20) Most of chapters 3-37 involves Job and his four friends arguing over who has insight into Job’s situation. The matter is only settled once God arrives and proves just how lacking in understanding Job and his peers were.
And this is incredibly relevant to how we deal with suffering. One of the most painful aspects of loss and grief is not having the answers. Why do we suffer illness? Why do lack the good things we desire? Why are relationships often so hard? We don’t know the full reasoning behind all of these, nor is God required to explain himself for allowing these things to happen. But when we experience or witness suffering, hopefully we can remember the right place of our human humility and be willing to admit that we simply don’t know much of anything. And hopefully this position of humility brings us out of anguish and into worship, such that while we don’t know the reasoning behind it all, we can answer like Ezekiel, “O LORD God, you know.”(Eze. 37:5)
Questions for Discussion
• Would someone read Job 42 for us?
• What stands out to you from this passage?
• Why do you think Job’s encounter with God led him to repentance?
• Why do you think God blessed Job after his hardship?
• What’s something that has been significant for you from our series in Job?
• What have you learned about how to relate to God in the midst of suffering?
• What has Job taught you about caring for others in the midst of suffering?