Thank you for being a friend

Job 42:10-17
There are a lot of questions to consider when we read the book of Job. At the heart of many of those questions is the idea of God making deals with the devil. That seems to set up problematic issues for many of us.

But it’s not that part that bothers me.

Job is what we call wisdom literature. As such, its design is to draw us into larger questions and a larger pursuit. The pursuit is always God’s wisdom. That’s how we make sense of what our lives are to be in light of what we know about God. The question guiding Job’s wisdom pursuit is, Can we tame God with our expectations?

The ancient readers of Job didn’t have an idea of the devil like you and I do. Satan, then, isn’t a name in Job. It’s simply a title. The satan enters the story and we never hear from him again. He’s not that big a deal. What is pressing is Job’s repeated quarrel with God. Job and his friends seem to represent common expectations we have of God. Namely, that if we do everything right, God will bless our lives.

On the surface, that may sound like a comforting thought. Then again, doesn’t that make God sound shallow? Jesus asked, “If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that” (Luke 6:33). So, either God is a cosmic Santa Claus, or we’ve misunderstood how the world works.

I assume we need God’s wisdom to better understand how the world works.

Again, I have no trouble reading Job as wisdom literature. It makes it easier to appreciate what is happening (and what isn’t). The story challenges some of our fundamental assumptions.

I don’t have a problem reading with Job as he does that until I get to the last chapter.

I’m still trying to make sense of how the story ends. And I know just like the rest of the story, that’s the point. What assumptions or expectations am I bringing to the chapter that unsettle me? It just seems odd that Job’s fortunes are doubled. We’re just supposed to be happy his old family has been replaced?

I’ve read that part of the point is that Job emerges a changed man. He’s encountered God, after all. That’ll have to be fine for today.

But as I was wrestling with that again this morning, I was drawn to another part of the story. Whereas Job’s friends cause him much strife throughout the story, in the last chapter things change. Job prayed for those stubborn friends. Afterward, other friends and his family come to greet him.

We know Job is still grieving. This new group came and “showed him sympathy.” Plus, “each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring.” So it’s not like God dangled a new life in front of him. Rather, I take that to mean his friends and family became part of his blessing and renewal.


If you’re looking for godly wisdom today, remember that. God used good friends and family to bless and heal Job. They may not have had all the answers. They didn’t burden Job with their theological sureties. They didn’t add to Job’s suffering. They showed up as someone there to support and encourage Job.

Thank you for being that kind of friend.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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