Sermons‎ > ‎

Whingeing from Job

If we’re honest we all enjoy a good moan from time to time but Job is a bit of an expert. A man who has it all and then loses it all, he proceeds to spend the whole of the rest of the book named after him moaning that God’s not fair, life’s not fair, it’s not fair. It is true that he does go on and on but then he does have a point: he is after all a good man, a man who believes in family, in God, in nation, a man who upholds the law, does good, believes in public service and charity.  And where has it got him? 
He has experienced tragedy, pain and loss – everything has been taken from him. Doesn’t he deserve something better?

Job believes he does. He believes that the good should be rewarded for their efforts and the bad punished for their wickedness.  
And so, insisting on his own blamelessness, he calls upon God to justify himself.

Those around Job also believe that the good should be rewarded and the bad punished and,as Job is clearly being punished, they insist that Job must have done something really pretty awful to deserve this. 
And so, because they want life to be fair, they blame Job. 
And because Job wants life to be fair, he blames God.

But God it seems is nowhere to be found: he has disappeared from Job’s life along with his good fortune: “I cry out and you do not answer” he complains if only God would return Job would give him a piece of his mind: “I will not restrain my mouth … I will speak my anguish … I will complain my bitterness”

Of course God is not absent, God is just waiting for Job to shut up for long enough to hear him. 

But, as this doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon, God eventually sends a tornado which leaves Job speechless and gives God a chance to get a word in. 

From the whirlwind God answers Job – or does he? Because he asks Job a whole pile of questions: where were you Job when I laid the foundations of the earth? Have you commanded the morning and caused the dawn to know its place?  Have you placed the leviathan on a lease and played with it?

Now when God asks us a question we have to remember that it’s not because he doesn’t know the answer. “Where was I when the foundations of the earth were laid?  Did I stretch out the heavens? God, you know I didn’t so why are you asking me a patently stupid question? 
Have you ever heard such stupid questions? Did I ask you a stupid question? Did I? Did I?

Job’s question we recall was this: “did you punish me by sending sickness and disaster upon me when I deserved better?” 
And God’s reply: Who was it who cut a channel for the torrents, to bring rain on a land where no one lives, on the desert? 
Who is it who gives the whole of ocean to the great leviathan to play in? 
Did the desert deserve the rain? Did the sea monster deserve the deep?  Did you deserve your possessions, position and power?  

God’s world is not ordered not on Job’s system: a system of just and unjust, deserving and undeserving, worthy unworthy – but on a system of love and delight, creativity and opportunity, generosity and abundance. 

The cosmos is about more than who deserves what, God is about more than judging, God is about delighting: When God looks upon what he has made he says: I love it I absolutely love it.

So God tries to open Job’s eyes to the wonder of the creation of which he too is part – a creature in whom God delights. So that Job may become like God – reaching beyond judgment, beyond his concern with good and bad, deserving and undeserving – and begin to see himself and others as God does: fearfully and wonderfully made, complex and beautiful.  

Would a God who is transported by joy watching the whales in the waves willingly visit destruction upon his creature? 
But if not then why is Job suffering?

In answer God points again to a vast and magnificent creation: a creation in which God is constantly at work: making and re-making and do so, unmaking: the landscape is shaped by the floods and the winds – the continents and oceans by earthquakes and lava flows.  
Our lives are no different. 
What we see as destruction God sees as the opportunity for recreation.

We may well think – as did James and John in our gospel story today – that we don’t need recreating. In fact God has done a pretty good job with us already so why start messin’ with it? 

Yet I know that the things that were really painful to learn in my life have been the things most worth learning. 
And I also know all too well – that God is never finished with us: much as he delights in us as we are, he wants to carry on changing us, from glory into glory, until we become like God ourselves: generously giving both ourselves and all of God’s creatures, opportunity after opportunity to be made new, looking upon the world in love not in judgement.