Job: a poem

Job is a surprisingly encouraging book when we suffer. Not because it makes our suffering any less, but because it kills the lies that make suffering unbearable. Lies that we didn’t think we believed, but can crop up when we see intense suffering, either in our lives or in the lives of others. Lies like, “if you are suffering, you must have done something wrong,” and “God must be angry with you because you are suffering.” The book of Job does a beautiful thing, it puts these lies in the mouths of Job’s friends and then rebukes them. After seeing these lies cut down, we can be open to the new testament’s portrayal of suffering. So, in that spirit, I wrote this poem.

Job

Prostrate on the ground, face in the dirt
words powerless to describe how much was the hurt
of his parched skin, cracked like ground deprived of water
and feeling the deprivation of burying his third daughter

His wife hysterically yelled out, “Curse God and die!”
He looked at her with pity, as she continued to cry
He thought carefully, because he saw she was in grief
and he knew wisdom dictated that he be brief

“Our sheep, camels, sons, daughters, all that we had
were good gifts from the Lord, and now we must accept the bad.
We came naked into this world, and that’s how we will go
And the purposes of God, only time will show”

On the horizon, he saw some of his old friends
when they saw him, their garments they began to rend
They sat and wept with him, a comfort, if any
until unfortunately, their words moved from none to many

They decided that Job’s suffering must be a result of some hidden sin
so instead of sympathizing with Job, they began accusing him
“wicked, jealous, sinful, godless” for adjectives there was no lack
so understandably this “comfort” felt more like a knife to the back

Job listened to his friends, but said he had done nothing wrong
though he disagreed with particulars, with their premise he went along
They said “you’ve sinned and now God punishes you”
He replied “I’ve not sinned, so God gives me what is not my due”

But there was one other friend, no more than a lad
who said “Okay Job, now you may be as old as my dad”
But have you considered that, maybe, from this good would emerge
that this may not be punishment, but rather purge?

Now God got very angry at Job’s three advisers
and even asked Job to pray for those three misers
But to Elihu, the young man with a different word
God was strangely quiet, no rebuke was to be heard

However, God did answer Elihu, but it took thousands of years
and teaches a lesson for those with willing ears
For James is the only author that speaks of Job in Testament 2
And he sharpens and refines that young man Elihu

For James does not only want to change, but destroy
any view of pain that does not include that alien joy
that comes from knowing that God works even, no especially, in our pain
while with the sharpest needle, on our flesh, engraves the name

of our elder brother, whose name is Christ
and who showed us that even’s Pilate’s device
was ultimately meant for our good
but oh! what a painful piece of wood

and oh how we feel the weight of that board
walking painfully, but never without our Lord
For we indeed have a God who can sympathize
who knows our sorrows and hears our cries

more than others for he also sorrowed and also cried
and also thirsted, and also died
and also looked at this blackness, stripped of hope
and also, from the other side, hands us a rope

to pull us through, for he has won
as he declared from the cross that it is done
and now he says through gasps, heaving on that tree
“suffer now, and become like me”