Does God Mess Up?
Bildad from Shuhah was next to speak:
“How can you keep on talking like this?
You’re talking nonsense, and noisy nonsense at that.
Does God mess up?
Does God Almighty ever get things backward?
It’s plain that your children sinned against him—
otherwise, why would God have punished them?
Here’s what you must do—and don’t put it off any longer:
Get down on your knees before God Almighty.
If you’re as innocent and upright as you say,
it’s not too late—he’ll come running;
he’ll set everything right again, reestablish your fortunes.
Even though you’re not much right now,
you’ll end up better than ever.
To Hang Your Life from One Thin Thread
“Put the question to our ancestors,
study what they learned from their ancestors.
For we’re newcomers at this, with a lot to learn,
and not too long to learn it.
So why not let the ancients teach you, tell you what’s what,
instruct you in what they knew from experience?
Can mighty pine trees grow tall without soil?
Can luscious tomatoes flourish without water?
Blossoming flowers look great before they’re cut or picked,
but without soil or water they wither more quickly than grass.
That’s what happens to all who forget God—
all their hopes come to nothing.
They hang their life from one thin thread,
they hitch their fate to a spider web.
One jiggle and the thread breaks,
one jab and the web collapses.
Or they’re like weeds springing up in the sunshine,
invading the garden,
Spreading everywhere, overtaking the flowers,
getting a foothold even in the rocks.
But when the gardener rips them out by the roots,
the garden doesn’t miss them one bit.
The sooner the godless are gone, the better;
then good plants can grow in their place.
“There’s no way that God will reject a good person,
and there is no way he’ll help a bad one.
God will let you laugh again;
you’ll raise the roof with shouts of joy,
With your enemies thoroughly discredited,
their house of cards collapsed.”
How Can Mere Mortals Get Right with God?
Job continued by saying:
“So what’s new? I know all this.
The question is, ‘How can mere mortals get right with God?’
If we wanted to bring our case before him,
what chance would we have? Not one in a thousand!
God’s wisdom is so deep, God’s power so immense,
who could take him on and come out in one piece?
He moves mountains before they know what’s happened,
flips them on their heads on a whim.
He gives the earth a good shaking up,
rocks it down to its very foundations.
He tells the sun, ‘Don’t shine,’ and it doesn’t;
he pulls the blinds on the stars.
All by himself he stretches out the heavens
and strides on the waves of the sea.
He designed the Big Dipper and Orion,
the Pleiades and Alpha Centauri.
We’ll never comprehend all the great things he does;
his miracle-surprises can’t be counted.
Somehow, though he moves right in front of me, I don’t see him;
quietly but surely he’s active, and I miss it.
If he steals you blind, who can stop him?
Who’s going to say, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’
God doesn’t hold back on his anger;
even dragon-bred monsters cringe before him.
“So how could I ever argue with him,
construct a defense that would influence God?
Even though I’m innocent I could never prove it;
I can only throw myself on the Judge’s mercy.
If I called on God and he himself answered me,
then, and only then, would I believe that he’d heard me.
As it is, he knocks me about from pillar to post,
beating me up, black-and-blue, for no good reason.
He won’t even let me catch my breath,
piles bitterness upon bitterness.
If it’s a question of who’s stronger, he wins, hands down!
If it’s a question of justice, who’ll serve him the subpoena?
Even though innocent, anything I say incriminates me;
blameless as I am, my defense just makes me sound worse.
If God’s Not Responsible, Who Is?
“Believe me, I’m blameless.
I don’t understand what’s going on.
I hate my life!
Since either way it ends up the same, I can only conclude
that God destroys the good right along with the bad.
When calamity hits and brings sudden death,
he folds his arms, aloof from the despair of the innocent.
He lets the wicked take over running the world,
he installs judges who can’t tell right from wrong.
If he’s not responsible, who is?
“My time is short—what’s left of my life races off
too fast for me to even glimpse the good.
My life is going fast, like a ship under full sail,
like an eagle plummeting to its prey.
Even if I say, ‘I’ll put all this behind me,
I’ll look on the bright side and force a smile,’
All these troubles would still be like grit in my gut
since it’s clear you’re not going to let up.
The verdict has already been handed down—‘Guilty!’—
so what’s the use of protests or appeals?
Even if I scrub myself all over
and wash myself with the strongest soap I can find,
It wouldn’t last—you’d push me into a pigpen, or worse,
so nobody could stand me for the stink.
“God and I are not equals; I can’t bring a case against him.
We’ll never enter a courtroom as peers.
How I wish we had an arbitrator
to step in and let me get on with life—
To break God’s death grip on me,
to free me from this terror so I could breathe again.
Then I’d speak up and state my case boldly.
As things stand, there is no way I can do it.”
To Find Some Skeleton in My Closet
“I can’t stand my life—I hate it!
I’m putting it all out on the table,
all the bitterness of my life—I’m holding back nothing.”
“Here’s what I want to say:
Don’t, God, bring in a verdict of guilty
without letting me know the charges you’re bringing.
How does this fit into what you once called ‘good’—
giving me a hard time, spurning me,
a life you shaped by your very own hands,
and then blessing the plots of the wicked?
You don’t look at things the way we mortals do.
You’re not taken in by appearances, are you?
Unlike us, you’re not working against a deadline.
You have all eternity to work things out.
So what’s this all about, anyway—this compulsion
to dig up some dirt, to find some skeleton in my closet?
You know good and well I’m not guilty.
You also know no one can help me.
“You made me like a handcrafted piece of pottery—
and now are you going to smash me to pieces?
Don’t you remember how beautifully you worked my clay?
Will you reduce me now to a mud pie?
Oh, that marvel of conception as you stirred together
semen and ovum—
What a miracle of skin and bone,
muscle and brain!
You gave me life itself, and incredible love.
You watched and guarded every breath I took.
“But you never told me about this part.
I should have known that there was more to it—
That if I so much as missed a step, you’d notice and pounce,
wouldn’t let me get by with a thing.
If I’m truly guilty, I’m doomed.
But if I’m innocent, it’s no better—I’m still doomed.
My belly is full of bitterness.
I’m up to my ears in a swamp of affliction.
I try to make the best of it, try to brave it out,
but you’re too much for me,
relentless, like a lion on the prowl.
You line up fresh witnesses against me.
You compound your anger
and pile on the grief and pain!
“So why did you have me born?
I wish no one had ever laid eyes on me!
I wish I’d never lived—a stillborn,
buried without ever having breathed.
Isn’t it time to call it quits on my life?
Can’t you let up, and let me smile just once
Before I die and am buried,
before I’m nailed into my coffin, sealed in the ground,
And banished for good to the land of the dead,
blind in the final dark?”