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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Job

Have you ever thought about the phrase "curse God and die" ? i was thinking about that yesterday. probably because i was thinking about Job. All his friends were telling him to just "curse God and die." I was wondering if that meant curse God, and have a spiritual death, where the spirit withdraws from you, or if it meant curse God and commit suicide. that would be a literal death. and back then, losing faith was probably equivalent to dying anyway.
Honestly, i feel a lot like Job. If you read his story in the bible, you might be surprised to find out that he just doesn't take what God is putting him through. He complains, he mourns, he grieves, he sinks into depression, but he never curses God and dies. He went from being on top of the world to literally being nothing in the eyes of the world.
Job starts out having everything. He is a wealthy man, a righteous man, and a family man. Then suddenly, his oxen, sheep, camels, and sons are taken away in a matter of minutes. A great tragedy like that? you have to know it's God. and so he went into mourning and worshipped. I imagine at this point he was just having faith that it was part of a greater plan. It was God's will, after all. He had faith that there was a reason and that he would be blessed again. then, he is struck with boils. Nothing that will kill you--but having had a boil before--they're not comfortable. and back in those days it was leporous. he was shunned for 7 days of cleansing. and his friends mourned for him and his wife told him to curse God and die, but he didn't. Nevertheless, his grief was very great.
And then he raises up his voice and curses the day he was born. He wonders why he was ever born, why he ever lived, except to see this awful misery. He confesses his bitterness of soul, and how he would be glad to meet the grave. his greatest fears have been realized.
And then Eliphaz comes in. He, for lack of a better word, rebukes Job for mourning, for crumbling in his grief. He reminds Job of the good he's done. How Job has strengthened the weak of heart and soul, and helped the weakened hands, and now that the trouble is upon Job, he falls? His knees buckle? Is it too much for Job, but not too much for all the other weary souls? will he truly die without wisdom? He says that Man is born into Trouble, and that peace comes from seeking God. Honestly, if this Eliphaz hadn't come in? I think Job would have buckled. Eliphaz says what i think Job believed when the tragedy first struck: that this was part of a plan, a purpose. that God was chastening him for reasons they didn't understand.
Job responds that he wishes God would just destroy him. Put him out of his misery. He wonders what is the point of living anymore? His sons are dead, there will be no posterity. His wealth is gone, how will he provide for himself? his future is gone. There is nothing left for him. And then he turns to God. He asks why. Has he sinned? If so, what so grievous a sin could it have been to merit this severe of a punishment? He asks why he has to burden himself. Which almost sounds like he's asking where God is. Why has God put him at odds with Him? and if he has sinned, why won't He forgive him and take away his suffering?
And then Bildad steps in. He counsels Job on the anguish of faithlessness. Saying that those that "forget" God are cut down like herbs in the field. Their Hope dies long before they do. It is a miserable experience. and a miserable existence. He speaks of eternal consequences, which are so much more potent than temporal ones. He promises that if Job remains faithful, God will fill his mouth with laughter again.
In a way, Job agrees. A man cannot fight against God and win. Those who have hardened their hearts against the Almighty have not prospered. How can one reason with God? One cannot. Job is in despair. The things he says now are things that sound like he's lost his connection with God. The spirit has retreated from him. He says if he calls out to God, He doesn't hearken. "He breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause." Job doesn't understand. He is being beaten, nearly to death, for something he doesn't understand. He is a righteous man, and up until now he still hasn't sinned. So where is God? Who is God? Will someone give Job a chance to plead with God?
Again, Job turns to God. Asking why does He despise the work of His own hands? Job says 'you know i'm innocent! Why are you punishing me?' more or less. You have clothed me, fed me, cared for me, blessed me. And yet now you curse me? "I am full of confusion" He wishes again that he had never been born and asks of the Lord why he was ever permitted to be born. He asks God to destroy him. to cease his days upon the Earth.
And then Zophar steps in. He says that God is punishing Job less than his iniquity deserves. Harsh. He says forget your misery and turn your face to God. If you are wicked, He will destroy you. And if you are righteous, you have nothing to fear. Only the wicked seek to give up the ghost.
Job comes back, pointing out that tabernacles of robbers aren't punished as severely has he has just been. his perspective is changing. He sees what appears to be the wicked prospering while he is a ruined man. it appears that God maketh man to stagger as a drunk. Job asks for silence, for no more counsel or rebuke from those around him. He says "do i put my flesh in my teeth, or my life in mine hand?" in other words, i'm not suicidal. i haven't fallen on my own sword. I have not yet sinned in my grief. He bears his testimony. He says he knows that even though God slays him, He will be his salvation. He knows the eternal consequences that occur from this life and the decisions we make. "Make me to know my transgressions and my sins." he's still looking for the answer. Has he done something wrong? "Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?" Job speaks of a tree. A flower that is cut down is dead, but if a tree is cut down and the roots are intact, there is hope that the tree may grow again. Job says he wishes to "hide" in the grave until all the iniquity of the world passes away. He speaks of resurrection. he believes that it is possible for a righteous man to live again after death. Is the flesh made to have pain and the soul made to mourn?
And then Eliphaz steps in again. Rebuking Job. Are you the first man to be born? Are you the first man to have trouble? Are you the first man that God has ever tried? A wicked man is trapped in darkness and seeks to fight with God. hypocrites and wicked men will be consumed with fire, while the righteous have their reward in life again.
job responds with ' you all suck at trying to comfort me.' He says 'if i were in your position and you in mine, i would rebuke you, as you have done, but i would also strengthen you. where is my strengthening?' "God hath also taken me by the neck, and shaken me to pieces." He wonders where are the righteous to plead for him, as he has plead for many in the past. Where is my hope?
by now, it seems, that all the others who have spoken to Job up to this point, believe that he has done something. That he is, in fact, wicked but only won't admit to it. Job begins to rebuke them, saying that there is none wise among them, and that they have reproached him ten times too many. It seems like they're trying to convince him that he's wicked. but he won't have it. Job knows that he's righteous. And so bears testimony that even though God has stripped him of everything, he still has faith in the Doctrine. He still has faith that he will live again, that the atonement works, and that he will see God face to face. Everyone has turned against him. His wife sees him as a stranger. His servants view him as an "alien." his friends have abandoned him, and his children were taken from him.
Zophar speaks again, saying that the success/triumph of the wicked is a small moment. but "God shall cast them out." He describes the punishments prophesied to happen to the wicked. which is basically describing Job's situation, and claims that that is simply how God deals with the wicked. Job replies that they are falsely comforting him by feeding him falsehoods. he is not wicked. and he knows it. And then Eliphaz comes in and accuses Job of sins and exhorts him to repent. He says the righteous will laugh the wicked to scorn. Job wonders where God is. He wishes that he could find Him, if only to understand why this is happening. He goes forward and backward and all around, but cannot find God. is Job so very wicked that he cannot perceive God? Bildad says that man is a worm. nothing more. born into dust, eating dust, and dying in dust. How can man ever be clean before God? It is not a fair system, given what man is. Job again asserts that he is righteous, and as spotless before God as a man can be. it is interesting to me that, though Job is suffering more than he can bear, he ends up teaching these critics about the Gospel. He testifies of the greatness of God, of the power of God unto salvation, and that the blessings of the righteous outweigh any blessings seen on the Earth. Where is wisdom? It cannot be found except in God. Wisdom can't be bought. Wisdom and understanding help you cast out wickedness and evil. Job recalls his righteousness. He recalls the blessings he received for clothing the naked, aiding the blind, carrying the lame, feeding the hungry. he recalls the prosperity and respect he once had as a man of means as well as a man of righteousness. he felt as a king among them, yet a king that was ever aiding the poor and needy. and now? Now they laugh him to scorn, they spit upon him, they abhor him, even as they do the dust under their feet. Job is truly a fallen man. He cries unto God, and God hears him not. "Thou art become cruel unto me." Did i not have righteous desires? Was i not obedient in thy laws? Was i not a righteous man, according to thy commandments? He wishes his heart to be weighed against God's laws. If he has been wicked, then he will accept the punishments. If he his not wicked, he seeks for understanding and for comfort in his grief.
Elihu stands up and speaks now, offering Job the perspective that in his grief, he is putting himself against God. He testifies that God ransoms those that are cast into the pit. as a young man, Elihu offers to teach Job wisdom. wickedness harms other men while righteousness helps them. Man is nothing in comparison with God, and yet God created us, and hears our prayers.
And then, at long last, God appears. He speaks to Job. He chastises him, speaking of the greatness and power of God over the whole Earth. man is nothing, and so why so grievous? God asks Job "Will you condemn me?" Whoa. I would not want to be asked that question. Do you blame me? Do you despise me? When i am so great and you are so not, will you detest me? Job is not filled with indignation. It is his grief that afflicts him. He is humble before the Lord, and so the Lord teaches him.
And then Job finally gets his wish. He understands the greatness of God, the power of the Earth and all the creatures thereon. He Humbles himself and repents in "dust and ashes" before the Lord, in the presence of the Lord, for his grief and for his despair. The Lord accepts Job, rebukes the three that had condemned him and instructs them to make sacrifices and have Job pray for them. And the Lord blesses Job. with twice that he had before. His fortune is rebuilt, he continues in righteousness, and he has more kids. And Job lived 140 years and saw his great-great-grandchildren. and he lived his life full to the end of his days.
On the off chance that you're still reading this, i guess i'll let you know why i've been feeling like Job. A year ago, i was on top of the world. I had enough money to pay for my own study abroad which was so much fun. I was helping share the Gospel, i was doing well in school, i was making friends and helping people and i was successful. I had a paper being published in Linguistics, i had been accepted to my dream school where i was going to get my masters degree and have an amazing job and be fulfilled. and it was all going to happen. i was on the road to success. i was on top of the world. And then, i decided to get married. which is a righteous desire. i got married, in the temple, obeying all covenants and laws to which i was aware. and then, like Job it seems, it all came tumbling down. I have no children to lose, but my friends were lost. most of them don't speak to me anymore for reasons i don't understand. they abandoned me. i couldn't get a job, found myself idle, and sought help, knowing that idleness is not righteous. i prayed, went to church, continued all the things that i knew i was commanded to do, and yet i suddenly realized that my life had gone. I was suddenly worthless. My future corrupted, i had no job, no means of supporting myself, i felt like if i spent so much as a dollar for myself, i was stealing from my husband, who was the one doing all the work. i had no purpose. i had a degree, but no one would hire me. i had great knowledge, but none that was worthy of a fulfilling role. my dad told me if i was sad it was my own fault and i just needed to get over it. my mom kept trying to tell me to write, though she has yet to read anything i've sent her in hopes that she'll actually support me in that. she also rebukes me everytime i seek comfort from her. they are my Eliphaz, Bildar, and Zophar. my marriage is poisoned, since Scott feels guilty everytime i cry and he realizes that i am not the girl i was when we were dating, much less when we were married. As for the sickness? I wish i had boils. they at least can go away and never really return. instead, my heart just isn't working correctly. Nothing lethal, nothing concerning. except when i'm sitting on the couch and my pulse suddenly jumps to 140 and stays that way for about ten minutes. my grief for the loss of my own life, my own dreams, my personality, really, keeps me from others. they don't want to be around me. i'm a drag. I also have not been able to feel the spirit in a long time. I ask God where are you? and He doesn't answer. I ask why? i don't understand? what did i do? show me my iniquity and i will repent! And yet He is silent. Even now, having read all 42 chapters of Job, the spirit is not with me.
Where is my Elihu?
If i can find him, then the lord will come again. I will have a chance to repent and be blessed again. but as for now, i feel beetrayed. I fell that God has tricked me, nurturing me and raising me in righteousness only to take away everything that has come to define me. i am dust. Where is my Elihu? Where is he that has wisdom, that will comfort me as well as rebuke my sadness? Why has God tricked me? Where has He gone? Why did he trick me and then leave? I feel like Job. alone. weary. seeking for the grave for relief from the suffering. Still having faith in the Doctrine, but crying out because i cannot find my Father. I feel like Job. And yet i'm barely holding onto the hope that my roots are intact, that my tree will flower again. in many ways, i don't believe it will. but i am mortal. And so i'm hoping, with my last shred of hope, that God will prove me wrong. and that He will give me a chance to be happy. and if not happy, then content. and if not even that, then i pray for destruction, because i cannot endure.