Job 1:1; 2:1-10
“Once upon a time there was a man named Job…” I think Job is one of the most interesting, difficult, and infuriating books of the Bible. It delves right into the question of “why bad things happen to good people,” and offers no truly satisfying answers. Job’s story has been questioned and parodied by nearly everyone, from Carl Jung to Southpark. Consider the questions: If Einstein was right, and “God does not play dice with the universe,” does God decide what happens to humanity based on heavenly wagers?? Are Job’s friends right when they tell him that he or someone must have done something wrong to deserve all his suffering? Or is Job’s wife on the right track when she seems to throw up her hands, telling Job to “curse (or is it bless?) God and die”? God’s answer to Job seem less than satisfying: (I’m God and you’re not could be one interpretation…). Is the “moral” of the story that if you remain faithful you’ll get all your stuff back? Do new family members offer any recompense for the grief of the loss of loved ones? As much as I’d love some easy answers from the book of Job, I think the Satan is on to something in verse 4 of today’s passage when he says, “Skin for skin!” The book of Job walks us through some of the most difficult questions of life and reminds us that we do indeed have skin in the game. Questions about suffering and loss aren’t academic or hypothetical questions. We really experience them. Maybe we’re not being asked to stand outside the story of Job and discern answers and create platitudes. Maybe we stand within the story, as people who know through experience that suffering and loss happen even as we struggle to remain faithful. Maybe the story reminds us that the questions are complex and painful. Must suffering and loss be indications of faithlessness, either ours or God’s? How might our faith and community life change if we were to recognize that faith, God’s presence, suffering, loss, and death can, and often do coexist contemporaneously?