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Five Reasons Why Job Might Be My All-Time Favorite Book of the Bible

Faith and strength for trying times

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

You might be surprised to learn that I love the Book of Job.

The Book of Job is long. It’s repetitive. It’s hard to understand at times. We often look to Job’s story when experiencing or explaining suffering, but the Book of Job doesn’t provide clear, simple answers.

Yes, Job remains faithful to God despite his loss, pain, and suffering, and he receives blessings in the end. But the Book of Job doesn’t explain why he, or we, inevitably experience suffering.

The promise of blessing may seem anything but certain to those in the throes of suffering. However, receiving blessings, in the end, does not negate the pain before. The Book of Job does not pretend otherwise.

So why do I love the Book of Job?

Job knows himself

Shortly after losing everything — and I mean, everything — three of Job’s friends visit him to offer comfort.

And they do a good job until they begin trying to explain why Job suffers. Then, they take turns saying either he or his children must have done something to warrant punishment from God and that such punishment is just.

Job knows himself, though. He insists that he didn’t cause his own suffering. He didn’t make a mistake that led to natural or unexpected consequences. He didn’t commit a sin that provoked punishment from God. He gave sacrifices on behalf of his children, so they can’t be to blame.

Job can resist his friends’ false claims because he knows himself. Since he knows himself, he also knows where he stands with God.

Job stands strong against falsehood

The Book of Job is repetitive partially because Job’s friends won’t give up trying to convince him that he somehow brought his suffering upon himself.

They also try to argue him into accepting that God can do whatever He wants, so who is Job to question why he suffers?

One of Job’s friends even implies that God simply doesn’t care about humans and what happens to them. Humans are but “worms” to God.

Job resists their arguments and rebukes their falsehoods. He says he will not lie about his situation or about God. At the book’s end, God Himself condemns Job’s friends for speaking falsely and commends Job for speaking truthfully.

Job chooses to believe

Job lost all of his property, ten children, health, and social standing. His own wife ridiculed him, and his friends tried to tell him God didn’t care about his suffering.

If anyone had reason to become an atheist, it would have been Job. Yet he chooses to believe even at his lowest moment.

In Job 19:25–27, Job exclaims:

“I know that my redeemer lives … I myself will see him … How my heart yearns within me!” (NIV)

The Hebrew word translated as “redeemer” could also be translated as “defender” or “vindicator.”

Job argues that he did nothing to lead to his suffering and that God Himself would defend him throughout the book. Job believes in his redeemer and defender when it would be easy, perhaps more comforting, to not believe.

Job believes in a loving God

In Job 25, one of Job’s friends suggests that God simply doesn’t care about Job. He’s indifferent to humanity and its suffering:

“If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in his eyes,
how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot — a human being, who is only a worm!” (NIV)

I don’t think I’m alone in using worms as fishing bait, utterly heedless of any suffering they might experience. Unfortunately, that’s the image Job’s friend paints.

To which Job responds with more sarcasm than a teenager:

What advice you have offered to one without wisdom! And what great insight you have displayed! (Job 26, NIV)

Job rebukes his friend’s attitude toward God because Job believes in a loving, caring, personal God, even at his utter lowest.

He believes God will vindicate him, and that’s precisely what happens at the end of the Book of Job.

Job is a role model

Job is a model of faith and strength during trying times.

He does not only remain faithful to God despite his loss, pain, and suffering. Despite his tragedy and his closest friends pushing arguments that could easily turn some people against God, he remains fiercely faithful to God despite his tragedy.

Think about what it must have cost Job to argue with his friends. Put yourself in his sackcloth and ashes, covered in painful boils, and consider how much you might yearn for a bit of sympathy and easy friendship.

Agreeing with his friends would have delivered that sympathy and restored at least some social standing and group identity, yet Job girds his strength and remains steadfast.

Imagine Job’s thoughts. He must have contemplated which was the greater anguish: wondering how and why a loving God could allow his tragedy or concluding that an indifferent, callous God doesn’t factor into it. I can see the mental comfort in ceasing to wonder why.

He chooses to believe in himself, in truth, in God, and in God’s love no matter what it costs him socially and psychologically. That’s strength.

Conclusion

We all have favorite passages in the Bible that we revisit over and over. Passages that inspire. Passages that encourage. Verses that heal. Verses that astound. Ideas that shape our relationship with God and how we live.

New favorite passages may emerge when we grow spiritually, move into a new stage of life, or face tragedy, blessing, or both. The list of favorites may get longer, or we may regard some passages differently than before.

I have a feeling that Job will always reside among my all-time favorite passages of the Bible. Job is a portrait of believing when it’s hard to do so.

How do you feel about Job? What’s your all-time favorite passage? Let me know in the comments.

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Eric Sentell

I write about religion, politics, culture, and their intersections. 👉Want unlimited Medium reading? https://ericsentell.medium.com/membership