It has been a hard week, this first week of the new year. And in Bible180, we spent most of it reading Job.
Job is usually a book that I dread to read. It's so long, and the chapters upon chapters of Job debating with his friends often seem wordy and repetitive. But this time - maybe because I myself am in pain - I've been both humbled and hope-filled by the Book of Job.
It seems like when we suffer, or when we see someone else suffering, our first question is "Why?" Maybe we believe it will hurt less if we just have a grasp of the logic of it - if there's some way to make sense of it. Maybe we are afraid that if there's no explanation, it means God must be disorderly or flippant or cruel, and we're at the mercy of Someone we can't trust.
And so as the sufferer we demand of God an answer, and as onlookers we try to explain His deeds away - just like Job and his well-meaning friends.
Growing up in the church, I have heard over and over again the phrase, "My Redeemer lives" - usually in song. But it never hit me that the origin of this phrase is the book of Job - that these words we usually sing or say as a proclamation of joy and praise actually began as a portion of a lament, spoken by a man who suffered beyond what I can comprehend.
For days and months and years Job asked God "Why?" - and for days and months and years, God was silent. But even in that silence Job could say,
As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me!
I am humbled - because I forget, as I'm asking why?, that the question that matters more - the question underneath the question - is who is God?
I am hope-filled - because when I shift my perspective to one more like Job's, I am reminded that my Redeemer lives, and that all that is so very wrong in this fallen world will not stay that way forever.
In our Advent study on the names of Jesus just a few weeks ago, we studied the name "Redeemer." It was one of my favorites - diving into the book of Ruth, and learning that if Christ is our Redeemer, then He has taken responsibility to care for us in our helpless state, and to raise up an inheritance for us despite our poverty.
And so He does for Job, in the final chapter of the book. He raises him up from near-death and total loss to a life re-filled with even more love and prosperity than he'd had before.
And this is my Redeemer.
Though I have lost, though my heart is broken, and though I'm wondering why - still, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last - when today's pain has long fled in the scope of eternity - He will set everything right.
He will raise me up with all His children as His joint-heir.
And I will see His face.