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Minggu, 31 Januari 2016

“God, Why?” (Reflection on Job 29-31)

“God, Why?”
(Reflection on Job 29-31)

Being forsaken is one of the terrible thing in our life. Nobody in the world wants to be thrust away and rejected, especially by our inner circle relation. And no body can ultimately survive if he is being forsaken by his God. The book of Job tells us about Job's struggles inside when he felt that he was forsaken by people and God. The calamity in his life make him left behind, helpless. He needed God's explanation, God's reason, God's purpose to understand what has happening. But still there was no answer. God was silence; he felt that God has forsaken him.
This book help us to understand the fragile nature of human being and how he depend ultimately to God. Without God we can do nothing, without God we are nothing. Job cried out to God his deep feeling, his protests, and the agony that he felt. He poured out his feeling to God in lament. This help us to understand that Our God hear our prayer, our sorrow and misery.
Chapter 29-31 are divided into three themes : the memory of the glory in the past, the agony of the present,  and questioning God about “Why? I am innocent!”. This chapters will help us to see the inner struggle of Job in his present predicament. It will help us to encounter with our own inner struggle of our predicament.

1. The Memory of the Past ( Chapter 29)
·         God's friendship and protection (29:1-3)
God was a good friend and companion for Job who takes care, keeps, preserves, watches over Job's life. He enjoyed God's protection and favor. This remind us of God who is a good Shepherd who gives goodness and protection of His flock. God is Job's shepherd. Job remembered all the close relationship he has with the living God before the calamity. God knows him closely and intimately.  Job acknowledged God's presence, His works, His hands, His characters; God is a close companion. In verse 3  Job said “When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness;” (Job 29:3, KJV).  This pictures out of God who provides guidance, direction and instruction in his life.  It was a time of his flowering years, when his tent was covered by the hand of God. God was so close to him, close than anyone else in his life. God blessed his life abundantly. Job loves God and puts his life trustfully in the hands of God.
·         Job's family, prosperity (29:4-6)
In his lament, Job remembered his children when they were still alive. He remembered God's blessing of the togetherness with his children. “When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me; When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;” ( Job 29:5, KJV) .  He wanted to go to his past, to the moment of his abundant blessings; but all has gone and changed drastically and dramatically.
·         Honor and respect from people (29:7-17)
Job has a significant position in the city. Gate is the place where important legal case and business conducted. Job always be awaited by people in the gate. From young men, age people, princess, nobles and everyone in the city gave highly honor and respect to Job.  The leaders and wise men paid attention, waiting  to the excellent wisdom in his mouth. His knowledge are integral with his conduct. He has a deep concern to the poor, the exploited, the helpless, the fatherless and the widows. He practiced righteousness and justice in all the days of his life before calamities. His knowledge of God, his relationship with God are integrated with his daily life practices.
·         Job's glory and leadership (29:18-25)
He dreamed about peaceful natural death in his old age, with prosperity and glory. His strength gave him protection. Verses 21-25 gave the complete picture of Job's enjoyment of well-merited respect in the conduct of public business[1]. The titles used to give the picture of his highly position in the society as their governor, their chief, like a king, the one who comforts the mourners. These titles pictures out his greatness and glory of the past. 

The Misery of the Present (Chapter 30)
·         Degraded by the outcast, the lowest of the society (30:1-8)
He became an object of mockery by young men who are the lowest and the most dismayed status in the society. These young men's father were not worthy to set with Job's sheep dogs. This mean that Job position of highly honor, glory and respect (as a king) degraded to a very lowest condition. Even the outcast people mock him and see him as nothing. Job becomes the most outcast person.
·         God apparently betrayed the friendship, made him weak and helpless (30:9-15)
This people made jokes of him and laughed at him. He became object of derision of the lowest people in the society because they see the misery 'punishment' in his life. He was helpless and no one protect him, so that they can do everything they want to Job. Job became detestable for them and they took their distance from him. The outcast people spit in his face. There is no way escaping from their attack. There is no help for Job. They continued attacking and destroying him, they tripped his feet. 
·         God was silence. Job alienated from God and he suffered (30:16-23)
In this condition, Job felt never ending pain in his body, physically, mentally and spiritually. He was alienated by God. His body suffered and he had no rest. He was threw into the dust and the ashes. God apparently let him treated brutally. Job cried out but there was no help. God was silence and forsake him. His voice was so sad sounding loud out of misery. His skin was so parched, that it peeled right off, and his bones were burning. Job thought that he will suffer never ending sufferings.

2. “Why This Happened? I am Innocent!” (Chapter 31)
Job guarded his life carefully by not doing anything that break God's rule. He maintain his integrity in his thought, there was no sinful thought in his mind. Job in his understanding still think that trouble and destruction is for sinner and evil-doer. The calamity that he received did not equivalent  with the integrity he did in his life. God watched his life, and of course God knew the integrity of his life. But why God silence? Why God allowed all these things happened? Job challenged God to measure the scale of his life and found if there is any falsehood inside him. If he has sin he will accept all the consequences of his sin, but he insist that there is nothing wrong in himself.
All his glory was transformed to be calamity and misery. God apparently forsook and betrayed the friendship with him. He convinced that he is innocent.  The hand of the LORD apparently is gone out against him. The bitter question came from Job to God, his true friend,  “Why?”.  Job stated "How I wish someone would listen to me! I will sign my name to all I have said. Now let God All-Powerful answer me. Let him make a list of what he thinks I did wrong”. (Job 31:35, ERV).

3. Picture of the Suffering of Christ on the Cross
The story of Job reminds us about the suffering of Christ on the cross. Job's sufferings described on chapter 30 is very close to Christ suffering on the cross. Christ suffered physically, spiritually, mentally. At the cross Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mat 27:46). What Job has suffered gives us a glimpse picture of Christ suffering on the cross.
Jesus was mocked by the priest, Roman's soldiers and people.  They mocked and reject him, smote him and spoke blasphemously against Him (Luke 22:63). They actually could not find any fault in him (Luke 23:4), but they still crucified him. In Phil 2:8-10 said that Jesus humbled Himself. He who is God, made himself of no reputation in the form of man. Jesus let Himself to be put to death, even death on the cross. Why? Because His love to us, so that we can have access for relationship with God the Father.
Chapter 29-31 gave us the picture of Job's inner struggle of someone who fell down from highest glory and honor to the deepest sorrow and agony. From Job's lament, we can learn about inner struggle of people in suffering, what they feel and how they see and how their thirst of God's answer amidst the suffering.  This can be a helpful resources for us to understand our own feeling when we had suffering or endured calamity in life.

4. Reflection on my own life experience
I remember the time before my father pass away, our family was a complete family. Before he died my father had a good position in a local government university. He studied at US and England, and wrote a hand book for government university (until now his book is still used). He helped pioneering some churches' works in Palangkaraya and some interior villages at Central Kalimantan.
When he died, we received a lot of mourning bouquet from people. I was 14 years old that time and after that time all my life change. We have to survive and live a very simple life. My mother salary and my father's pension were not enough to bear financial need for 7 children. 2 of my siblings had just graduated after their bachelor and diploma.
A few months after my father died, my mother send me and my twin to study at Java. It is one of his last requests that we have to study in a Christian school in Central Java.  It gave a traumatic experience in my life. I had not yet finish with my grief because of my father's death, then I have to live in a foreign land, survive as a teenager alone. Fortunately, my sister came regularly to visit me from other city most of every week. But I still had difficulty to accept my father's death, and I could not resolve the question “Why?” deep inside my heart and mind. “Why You take my father from us so early?”, “Why my family change drastically and  everything not same anymore?”. I could feel the difference, everything was not the same anymore. It leaved a wound deep in my heart. I thought that God was not only take my father from me, but also we apparently loss our future chances, our secure provision, our family fortress and family dignity.
Some of the neighbor saw the death of my father in negative way. He died on his 56 years old, and still young in the eyes of surrounding people that time. He had a bright career, but then he died and could not continue his vision. People questioned whether my mother can raised her 7 children in a proper way. Some negative critics made our family fell down deeply.
I grew up through this transition which changed all my life. I was not prepared well to handle this kind of condition before. It was happened unexpectedly. I grew up without a strong mentoring process from my parents. I searched everything I need by my self, decided for my self what ever I have to choose and survived with everything I could do. I became too independent. The question “Why” coloring my teenage days and my searching of a true family and true acceptance in life.
The word “if” sometime came to my mind whispering: “If my father is here, the things will not going to be like this..”, “If my father still alive, I will have...”.. “Oh God, because of that circumstances I become like this. If only....” But it was only the memory of the past that I could not return back to. Someone that you really love was taken away from you without any reason and you could understand it.. The question “why?” is still there, with its pain hidden under the surface.

From Broken to be Beautiful in His hand
Jesus has bear the ultimate sorrow and agony of human being in the cross. He is the only one that we can trust, because he suffered for us. He bored our burden on the cross, wiped our tears, cleansed our sin so that we have a new life in Him. Our broken life was accepted by him and transformed become a new life in him.
I thank God that now my family has been restored. We still have struggles in a lot of things, but we has seen the hand of God cares of our family. All my siblings now has their own life. They have built their own family. All of us have finished our university study. Many of my siblings finish their post graduate education and have their strategic positions in the society.
Our life will continue, the life will go on. We do not know what will happened in the future. May be there will be another calamity story. We do not know. But one thing that we learn from Job is to know that God is with us, He holds our hand to walk beside Him even in our darkest time. We can trust Him. We will secure in Him. When we end our life, we will return home safely to the palm of His peaceful hands. The story is not about us, but about Him who created our life. He redeemed our brokenness. We can see His hand's marked in our life. He changed something broken to be beautiful in His hand.

[1]    Francis I. Anderson, “Job” an Introduction and Commentary, (Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1996), p. 233.

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