Saturday, February 20, 2010

Job Admits Feeling Persecuted

“My soul is weary of my life
I don’t mind saying that:
I speak in bitterness.

“I have this to say to God:
Do not condemn me!
Show me why you have done this.
How is it good that you oppress?
How is it good that you despise your own creation?
How is it good that goodness goes unrewarded?

“Do you have eyes of flesh?
Do you see as we humans see?
Are your days the days of a human life?
Are your years like human years?
Is that why you bring me to trial?
Is that why you search for my sin?

“You know that I am not wicked.
You know there is no escape from you.
Your hands have made me,
Shaped me into what I am,
Yet you destroy me.
Remember, please, that you
Made me from clay,
And you will bring me to dust again.

“Haven’t you poured me out like milk
And curdled me like cheese?
You clothed me with skin and flesh,
And fenced me in with bones and muscle.
You granted me life and grace,
And your presence preserved my spirit.
You know these things in your heart;
I know you remember these things.

“If I do wrong, you see it,
And you do not approve.
If I am wicked, woe unto me.
But if I be good . . .
Woe unto me in that case too!

“I am confused!

“This is what torments me.
It just gets worse.
First, you hunt me like a fierce lion,
Then, you are marvelous to me.
Then, you accuse me of something else,
And the war starts all over again.

“Why is it I was born?
If only I had died
Before any eye ever looked upon me!
If only I had never been,
Or had been carried straight
From womb to grave.

“Isn’t my life short enough already?
Stop, then! Just leave me alone
So I can find some little comfort
Before I go to that place
From whence there is no return,
To that land of darkness
And the shadow of death,
That place soaked in chaos
Where the light is like darkness.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Job Points Out that God Holds All the Cards

Then Job said,

“All you say is true,
But how can we humans
Be just with God?

“In an argument, our chances
Aren’t one in a thousand.
God is wise in heart,
And mighty in strength.
Who has resisted God
And found prosperity?

“God removes mountains
At a whim;
God overturns them
In a fit of anger.
God shakes the earth out of place.
The very pillars tremble.
God commands the sun,
And it doesn’t even rise
God seals the light of stars.
God alone spreads the heavens
And walks on the waves of the sea.
God made the Bear, Orion, the Pleiades,
And the chambers of the south.
God does incomprehensible things,
Wonders without number.

“Consider: God goes by me,
And I don’t see a thing.
God keeps going,
But I am none the wiser.
Who can stop God?
Who will say,
‘What do you think you’re doing?’

“When God is angry
Chaos itself bows down.

“So, consider: How might I answer God?
What words might I choose to make an argument?
Even if I am innocent,
With a judge like that,
All I can do is beg.
Even were I to call,
And even if I got an answer,
How might I know that?

“God breaks me in a storm,
Then keeps stabbing for no reason.
God won’t even allow me a breath
But fills me to choking with bitterness.

“If I talk about strength,
God is what I’m talking about;
If I talk about judgment,
Who makes the court date?
Were I to try justifying myself,
My own mouth would answer,
Condemning me. If I say
That I am perfect, my mouth
Answers that I am perverse.

“Even if I were perfect,
How might I know my soul?
Look—God destroys both
The perfect and the wicked.
Yes, the wicked pay for crimes,
But trials for the innocent end no better.
The earth is in the hands of the wicked,
Yet God turns a blind eye—
If that’s not true, tell me how I’m wrong!

“My days are faster than a sprinter,
And they see no good.
My days pass like a swift ship,
Like an eagle swooping on its prey.
Were I to decide to forget my complaining;
Were I to decide to leave depression,
Seeking only comfort, still—would I be forgiven?
If I am wicked, why bother trying?
If I wash myself with snow water,
And make my hands never so clean—
Still yet God will throw me in a ditch
And my own clothes
Will find me disgusting.

“God is not human
As I am human.
God will not answer me.
We will not reason together.
There is no intermediary
That might listen to us both.

“If God would take the whip away;
If God would stop terrifying me,
Then I might be able to speak
Without abject fear, but
That is not how it is in my case.”

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bildad’s Discourse on The Wisdom of Times Past

Bildad the Shuhite answered,

“How long will you speak these things?
How long will your words be like a hurricane?
Does God make mistakes in judgment?
Does the Almighty ever get it wrong?

“If your children sinned against him,
Then, if you have sought God,
If you have made your petition to the Almighty,
If you were pure and upright,
Surely, then, he would wake you from this dream
And make you rich and blessed again.

“Surely, though you are down now,
You will be rich again soon.
I ask you to think of the days of old.
All we know is yesterday,
Since our present days are only darkness.
Don’t the old ones teach you
And strengthen your heart?
After all, reeds won’t grow without water;
Papyrus only grows in mud.
While these are growing,
Do not cut them down.
Such is the path of those without God.
The godless perish without hope.
They put their trust in spider webs.

“Sure, the godless grow in the sun,
But their roots are in trash;
They are planted among stones.
They think they are thriving,
But God does not see them.

“It is the way of God to nurture.
God never abandons a perfect person;
Neither does God help an evildoer.
God will fill your mouth with laughter
And your lips with rejoicing.
Your enemies will be clothed in shame,
And the garden of the godless
Will come to nothing.”