When life has flung a lot of crap your way, do you ever wonder why? Maybe it was bad karma, or simply bad luck, or if you’re Christian, maybe God has been making some bets with the devil again. Wait what?
Enter the ridiculous Bible story of Job. In case you haven’t read it, let’s do a little primer. Job was a “blameless” wealthy person, who owned thousands of sheep, camels, oxen and donkeys, with lots of servants to boot. He also had seven sons and three daughters; you’ll see why this is important in a moment.
Satan then approaches God with some angels. God tells him about Job and how good of a servant he is. In response, Satan decides to make a bet with God. He insists that if he takes all of Job’s good things away and causes him to suffer, then he would ‘curse you to your face’.
What is God’s response to this? This all-knowing God could have said: “No Satan, he won’t. Leave my Job alone”. Or he could have just told Satan to fuck off (in his own words) … But no, God didn’t say either of those things. Instead, God agrees with Satan, and lets him do whatever he wants to Job, if he doesn’t harm Job himself. But don’t just take it from me, here’s the Bible passage:
9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
So, what does Satan do to Job? He has all his animals taken away, all his servants are killed in raids, and all his children are killed when a strong wind destroyed their house. Well, damn. After all this, Job is understandably quite upset, but he never accuses God of any wrongdoing, and that is apparently OK.
But wait, that’s not the end of it. Satan approaches God again. God says that Job is blameless despite what happened to him. This time Satan asks if he can harm Job directly, and then he would ‘curse you to your face’. Apparently, God hadn’t made his point yet, and he agrees to Satan once again. This time, Satan can harm Job, if he doesn’t kill him. Job then gets some infectious disease which causes sores all over his body.
3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”
For the next 35 chapters or so, Job gets into some poetic arguments with three of his friends. The gist of it is, they blame Job for his suffering. He must have done something bad to deserve it, because surely bad things don’t happen to good people right? Finally, towards the end of this 42-chapter book, God responds to Job with some poetry of his own. But he doesn’t ever tell Job why he was suffering. Instead he asks Job a bunch of questions about nature and boasts about his own God abilities.
If there is some silver lining here, God does confront his friends for being wrong about Job. He then blesses Job with more servants and animals than he had before, and he has another seven sons and three daughters. I guess that somehow makes up for losing his other kids, right? Oh, and he gets to live for another 140 years. Whether or not you consider the last one a blessing I’ll leave that up to you.
When I was a Christian I used to like the book of Job. The overarching theme of this book is that bad things happen in life, regardless of what kind of person you are. Sometimes the righteous suffer, and morally bad people don’t. Well, I can agree with that. I am sure you can think of many examples in real life like that. But the problem with this story is that Job didn’t just suffer from a stroke of bad luck, he suffered because the devil inflicted severe suffering on him, as part of a bet, and God permitted him to do so. And for what? God made his own servant suffer just to prove a point, and to make Satan look bad, as he knew he would win the bet, I guess. Also, after taking everything away from Job, including his family and health, he never gives him any explanation whatsoever.
So yeah, I do find this story to be quite ridiculous now. Only a nasty, psychopathic God would treat their followers like that, just to prove a point or win some silly bet. Perhaps Job should’ve just cursed God, as his wife told him?
Cover Image Source: Darkonator, DrawingHub.