The impatience of Job

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The impatience of Job

We talk about the “patience of Job,” and that makes him seem like a meek and mild fellow who heroically and stoically endures waves of misfortune from God and the devil.

Don’t buy it. Job is a whiner, a complainer. “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?…I am filled with restlessness until the dawn…Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.”

Or: “Woe is me.”

The Book of Job is the story of his efforts to convince God that it just isn’t fair that he’s afflicted with so many miseries. His faith in the Lord never wavers, but he argues again and again that he doesn’t deserve the disasters, conflagrations and boils that have befallen him.

Finally, Yahweh has had enough and, “out of the whirlwind,” says:

Where were you when I founded the earth?… When I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands?…Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning?… Can you send the lightnings on their way, so that they say to you, “Here we are”?”

And on and on and on.

In other words: “I’m God. I see farther, deeper and more clearly than you.” And, in response, Job acquiesces. He says, in effect, “Yes, you are God. Yes, there is much that I do not understand.”

Like Job, we can’t understand why things happen the way they do — the good things and the bad things. We live in “the whirlwind.” We are buffeted by the storms of existence.

Our call, though, isn’t to give up. Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks put it best when she wrote:

This is the urgency: Live!
and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.

Patrick T. Reardon
2.5.12

2 Comments

  1. Phillip Kapela says:

    Pat

    This piece is so helpful and correct.

    I could write so much about Job, his story, his life that would stem from so many people.

    Suffice it to say that “you are a piece of good news” this morning.

    • Patrick T. Reardon says:

      Thanks, Phil. I find Job fascinating. He’s also a bracing tonic to the Irish stoicism I’m so familiar with. Complaining and whining are OK as long as you keep the faith. Pat

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