sexta-feira, 6 de novembro de 2015


You asked,
‘Who is this that obscures my plans
without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things
I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
Job 42:3 (read 42:1-17) – NIV

Job's suffering was atrocious. His social and economic situation was depressing. But his mood had changed. His questions and demands were accepted by God but were answered by storms and questions with impossible answers. In this process, Job received a new vision. Even while not getting the responses that he expected and still in the midst of great pain, Job saw the greatness of the Creator and of his creation. He was learning to live by a faith that sees hope even in the midst of despair. Suffering is also part of the created order and does not annul life. Job came to confess the experience of God's presence even while sitting on a heap of ashes on the floor.

The subsequent restoration of Job was secondary in the story and was not the result of a new vision. Job's misfortune and restoration had nothing to do with merit or with fault.

We have a hard time accepting the thesis of suffering, divorced from personal merits. We preach the lie that the acceptance of the gospel is the solution to all of our problems. The "gospel of prosperity" promises economic and social ascent. Jesus never promised wealth and status as a reward for a life according to God's will. On the contrary, he called his followers to daily take up their cross and be prepared to face rejection, persecution and suffering. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks of suffering even as the source of happiness.

We err when we change the gospel message in order to attract crowds and fill temples with people seeking big "blessings". In the practice of evangelization many capitalize on the suffering and misery of people by promising "heaven and earth" to those who "come to Jesus". Jesus never made such promises.

Job came to see that God is God, apart from fortune or misfortune and that living in harmony with the Creator and the creation is no guarantee of personal well-being.

We are not exempt from the woes that afflict humanity. The acceptance of the gospel can give the feeling of liberation from guilt of some evils but can create other problems. The new "vision" of the blind can let them see beauty but along with it also see tragic scenes that disturb the heart. The "new walk" of the lame can make them jump for joy but can also lead them to paths where there is rejection, persecution and betrayal by friends and family.

Job's lesson is not fatalism, but is realistic hope! We are ignorant before the tragic events of mankind and the violence of nature. Faith helps us to see that the chaos of existence is only apparent. The universe is not out of control. By it we can see grace even in what looks like disgrace.

Job was righteous and devout, but nevertheless suffered great misfortunes. Even while getting a negative reward he continued on the path of good. Doing good may not bring in the desired rewards. The path of peace and justice can apparently come to nothing. The value of the walk is the walk itself, regardless of results.

Then Job replied to the Lord:
“I know that you can do all things;
    no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me to know.
 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.

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