I’m not really very patient but I may look so to my colleague for having devoted many hours during my first eight weeks in my new job listening to the people in our organization, probing their views of how things are. It’s not so much patience as “processing” – trying to figure out what’s what to form the basis of a game plan. At least both words start with a “p.”
I’ve read Job many times. While I would not use the word “patient” regarding him (or me), I appreciated her comparing him with me because, in my mind, he endured, persevered, stuck it out. Best of all, he remained faithful to God.
Remaining faithful to God involves discipline and resolve that is formed over time that pushes through tribulation, triumph and lots and lots of ho-hum, hum-drum. Job may not have been patient but he surely held fast to God every step of the way and, in so doing, he pleased God. If that’s what my colleague meant by saying I “have the patience of Job,” I’m good with that.
Job’s story is a fascinating snapshot of how bad things happen to good people. While causes may be unknown, this story poses a disturbing premise – that everything requires God’s permission. Nothing can happen unless God allows it.
If this is true then the charges of why God lets bad things happen actually have merit. We Christians always try to defend God against these charges but Job’s story suggests that God is willing to be accused of bad stuff. In this case, Satan caused but God permitted.
I wonder if a better approach would be to let the charges stand unopposed and just allow the inquiry to continue to the natural next stop – why? “Why” is where we of faith can be most like our Lord Jesus – mercy, graceful, empathic. “Why” is where we can cast our own story alongside our friend’s.
The Apostle Peter advised, “…if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15, NLT). Of course if we’re in defense mode all the time, no one is going to ask us about our hopefulness.
Job isn’t patient. The more modern Bible translations seem to agree. The term “the patience of Job” is from James 5:11 of the older King James Bible. Newer translations use a different word, like “endurance” (NLT, NASB, RSV), or “perseverance” (NKJV, NAB).
What happened to Job is horrific and he is sad and depressed and angry at God for allowing all this to happen to him. He wishes he’d never been born. He expresses a desire to confront God and to demand from God an explanation of what happened. While not patient, he certainly endured and persevered. And, he honored the confidence that God placed in him at the beginning of the story by remaining faithful to circling back after every rant to defer to God.
It’s interesting how the story ends. God shows up and all of a sudden all Job’s rants sort of dissipate. What Job doesn’t say says everything he is thinking. God is enough.
When all is said and done, that’s all that needs to be known and believed. God is enough. That’s what God has been saying and demonstrating and reflecting directly and indirectly all along. He is all we need.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelations 22:13, NLT)
Photo source: http://www.lukesurl.com/tags/religion