The Word Made Fresh
1“Doesn’t a man have things hard enough on earth? Are any of us really anything but hired hands? 2I’m like a slave longing for the evening or a hired hand looking for his paycheck, 3but all I get is months of emptiness and nights of misery. 4When I lie down I wonder when I’ll rise. Throughout the long night I am tossing and turning. 5My skin feels like it is covered with worms and dirt; it will clear up and then break out again. 6My days fly past, and end with no hope in sight.
7“My life is a fleeting breath, and my eyes will never again see anything good. 8Those who see me today will see me no more. While you are looking at me, I’ll be gone. 9Just like a cloud that fades away and is seen no more, those who go to the grave will never reappear. 10Never again will they set foot in their homes, and they will fade from memory.
11“So, I’m not going to pretend everything is fine; I’m going to talk about how my spirit is languishing, and how my soul is bitter. 12Am I like the ocean, or the deep-sea monsters that you post guards around? 13When I think to myself that my bed will be a comfort and will ease my suffering, 14you send me frightening dreams and visions, 15and I would rather be strangled to death than to continue living in this body. 16I hate my life. I would never wish to live forever. Leave me alone! My days are nothing more than a fleeting breath. 17What are we that makes you think we’re important, 18that makes you visit us every morning and test us continually? 19Can’t you just turn your face away from me for a little while and give me a second to swallow my spit? 20And even if I do sin, what does that matter to you? Why do you watch over us human beings? And why have you made me a target? Am I some sort of burden for you? 21Why can’t you forgive me for whatever I’ve done? When I’m dead and gone you will look for me, but I won’t be around.”
1-6: Job continues bewailing his plight. He is in constant misery. The nights are unbearably long; the days pass too quickly and his hopes for any sign of recovery or improvement are dashed.
7-10: He is convinced that he hasn’t much time left before his death.
11-21: Job is clearly addressing these verses not to his friends, but directly to God. He insists that he has a right to complain, and his complaint dissolves into a series of “whys.” It is clear that at this point he is questioning God: why should God bother with human beings anyway (see Psalm 8:4)? Why is God using him for target practice? Why is he relegated to become a burden to his friends? Why doesn’t God forgive him? Doesn’t God know he’s going to die?
We search for reasons for our suffering, and we are dismayed when we can find none. Calamity befalls the just and the unjust without rhyme or reason, and it is childish to think that we can avoid all suffering if we are “good” enough. Our suffering, or freedom from it, cannot be predicted by our character. Instead, our character can predict how we will react when suffering is thrust upon us.