Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Epilogue: Just Because

The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Karen-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job's daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

Job 42:12-15

Q: What are the names of Job's sons?

A: We don't know.

Job has seven sons, and we don't know the name of one of them. But we know the name of each of his three daughters. Curious.

And the daughters were given a portion of the inheritance along with the sons. This also is curious.

See, in the ancient world sons were what it was all about. Sons could work in the field, and sons could take over the family farm. Sons would carry on the family name. Sons could provide for you when you got old. Sons were useful. Providing an inheritance for your sons was a strategic thing to do.

Daughters were liable to get married, take on someone else's name and move away. They might end up working someone else's farm and providing for someone else's parents. You'd never give them a portion of the inheritance. But Job does. Why? Just because.

What am I getting at?

Job now delights in (look at what his daughters' names mean) and gives to the least strategic, least useful offspring. Job gives to those who may never give him anything in return. Job has become more like God. He learned a lesson, and the lesson wasn't, "Stop crying, or I'll give you something to really cry about!" The lesson was that God doesn't give good things to people as a reward for doing right; God gives good things to people just because.

Job learns that lesson, and -- even though he questions God -- he clings to God all the way through this ordeal. In the end, he comes out looking a lot more like the God he's been holding onto than ever before.

Satan was wrong about the human race and about God. And this book was written and preserved for us -- to show us our true potential. Can a human being still hang onto God with love and service and obedience even if it doesn't seem to pay off?

One could. One did. Job didn't know when he was sitting on the ash heap broke, confused, sad and miserable how God was using him to vindicate his whole crazy adventure -- that a community could be created where God was both the center and the circumference.

Job's story inspires all of us who live in Uz. Don't quit. Don't give up. It inspires us because we know what Job did not: one day this God would descend the Upper Stage to the Lower Stage and become one of us and offer to exchange all our suffering for his righteousness so that we could ascend from the Lower Stage to the Upper Stage.

And he doesn't do it to gain anything. He does it just because.