I’m reading through the book of Job right now with Team 365. Job’s story isn’t exactly a bedtime lullaby. Most people give up reading all the way through it because it’s just so depressing.
But the wisdom found within this book continues to confound me, and I’ll never forget reading about Job in Donald Miller’s book, Searching for God Knows What. Miller says:
[T]he first book written in the Bible is the book of Job . . . the first thing God wanted to communicate to mankind was that life is hard, and there is pain, great pain in life, and yet the answer to this pain, or the cure for this pain, is not given in explanation; rather, God offers to this pain, or this life experience, Himself. (216)
I’ll let scholars debate the date and authorship of the book of Job. Yet, it’s fascinating to consider that the first story recorded in Scripture is a story of suffering. Not a story of blessing. Not a story of celebration. But rather, a story of suffering.
Job: A Shadow of Suffering
Determined to dig a little deeper, I learned that Job’s life is likely a pre-patriarchal account. In other words, Job lived before Abram, who became Abraham. So in terms of chronology, Job lived first. So in a chronological Bible, this book is commonly placed right after the book of Genesis.
I also learned that the book of Job is a scriptural anomaly. With its peculiar combination of prose and poetry, scholars debate over what category to put it in. So scholars have lumped his story with the Psalms and Proverbs because it offers the same kind of wisdom and advice that is found in these other poetic scriptures.
Thus, Job is part of the genre called Wisdom Literature because his story reflects the universal nature of God’s truth.
What’s universal about this story?
Well, one thing we do know is that Job was not an Israelite. He was possibly from the region just east of what we consider Israel. But he was not Hebrew.
Why is this noteworthy?
Because it tells us that God’s Word, from the very beginning, was meant for all of us — for Jews and Gentiles.
While few of us can relate to the severity and plurality of Job’s suffering, most of us can relate to some part of it. Over the next several days, I will explore a few succinct parts of his story.
- What, if anything, can we learn from his suffering?
- How does Job’s story connect with our own?
- What role does faith play in perseverance?
The book of Job is one of the most ancient pieces of literature that exists, yet it speaks to the human condition today. I’m grateful to know that God’s Word is for everyone — for you and for me. And when severe suffering is part of our experience, we know we’re not alone.
I invite you to join me each day this week as I explore another aspect of Job’s story that connects, in its own way, to my story. And possibly to yours too.
When you think of Job’s story,
what do you think of?
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