Reflections from the Ash Heap
So I thought I would reflect on Job a bit since ashes have been on mind since Ash Wednesday and Job has been in the mouths of people who spoke of him in my hearing and now he is on my mind too. They go together--ashes and Job. While I am familiar with the book of Job, I have decided to make it part of my Lenten journey. So I read the first two chapters and they really bother me. So I am about to write some things about God that might bother the tender soul. If you are that person, you might want to stop here and read some other more reverent blog.
Okay, so I love God, but that God in the first two chapters of Job is annoying. First, God brings Job to the attention of a known troublemaker. Then the troublemaker accuses and eventually manipulates God into giving the troublemaker permission to wreak havoc. Now whether it is the troublemaker or God who acts against Job is unclear, but verse 3 of chapter 2 is clear. God blames the troublemaker for inciting him to destroy Job, a righteous man. Later, it gets tense. The troublemaker comes back full of spite and venom, and God gives this spiteful troublemaker even more power to do some serious damage to Job.
What is going on here? I don't intend to make rational excuses for God. This is downright annoying. There are no excuses. This challenges all my beliefs about a God who is compassionate and full of kindness. It challenges my beliefs in a God who cares about the suffering of and the marginalized people of the world. This looks like something from ancient mythology where the gods are forever engaged in some form of one-upmanship. This reads like a god who cares little for the well being of humanity and cares more for being proved right about what Job will do in the midst of suffering. This is downright annoying. I don't like this God very much.
So there it is. I have not much else to say about these beginning chapters. I have a feeling this is a good way to start reading Job. Full of indignation. Suffering begs the question about God. What is this all about and how is God involved or not involved? And then I come back to the ashes. Is this what it means: that in the end suffering is just an ash heap? And are we expected to sit in the midst of those ashes until God decides to be a different kind of God than the one in these chapters? And if so, does that offer hope or does that offer hopelessness? Or does it offer both?