This is the tenth week for my personal challenge to write sonnets through the Book of Job. I began this journey back in October and ten weeks in, a pattern is emerging. If it seems as though there’s similarity between the chapters so far, it’s because there is! Job’s former life was relatively uncomplicated: he had wealth, a large (and apparently, happy) family, good friends and a healthy attitude about Almighty God from whom his blessings had been gratefully received.
Then one day, all that changed. His cattle, servants and flocks were suddenly decimated, his daughters and sons were killed by one devastating wind storm (that also destroyed the house where they were gathered). As if these external calamities weren’t enough, Job’s person is abruptly laid low, he’s beset by oozing boils from head to toe. And then, his wife – a traditional source of comfort – emotionally abandons him with the parting rebuke for Job to “curse God and die.“
Surely, Job’s humility is complete … but no. His friends gather to explain what they perceive to be Job’s sins and their reasoning mostly comes down to shaking a finger in Job’s face as they explain he’s receiving his just deserts.
Chapter ten continues Job’s extended discourse from chapter nine, laying out his defense in the face of his friends’ finger-pointing. Above all else, he maintains he’s a man of integrity. He explains to his friends – and anyone else within earshot, including the God of Heaven and Earth whom Job boldly accuses of being distant and unconcerned – that God already knows and should acknowledge Job is a man of integrity!
Job suggests if there were an intermediary, someone to be the adjudicator between himself and the Creator, that individual would argue on Job’s behalf. (Again, this is a foreshadowing reference to the future Savior, Jesus Christ.)
I don’t think it’s unusual for a human being to look at his or her life and consider it loathsome. This is what Job says as the chapter opens. He is desperate to make the case for his personal integrity, especially considering how his friends have unfairly slandered him. Further, Job intimates that the whimsy of fate would be less cruel than God has been.
At this point, Job’s physical condition has taken its toll, gripping him in a hopeless melancholy. If ever he were shaking his fist to the heavens, this is the moment. But no matter how deep his anguish, he believes he deserves an answer from the Most High God about why he has been chosen for suffering. He thinks if he can get an answer to that question, he would thus be satisfied and ready to quietly die.
As with chapter ten, this sonnet (below) isn’t particularly pretty. When an individual is embittered, venting is rarely pleasant to see (or hear). But sometimes, venting relieves the intense pressure the suffering person feels. The worst part of suffering (for me anyway) is feeling that God is far off and that He doesn’t truly care … else He’d remove the calamity from me. This kind of thinking is short-sighted and doesn’t make room to allow for God’s plan to be worked out through us. Job wants to die, he’s anxious for relief … but God has the better plan and the chapters to follow will reveal it. Soli Deo Gloria.