Read Job 42:12-17
12 So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. 13 He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters. 14 He named his first daughter Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. 15 In all the land no women were as lovely as the daughters of Job. And their father put them into his will along with their brothers.
16 Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. 17 Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life. (NLT)
The book of Job reads a bit like one of those rather messy fairytales in which everyone ends up living happily ever after. In fact, the whole book is a reflection on what the cycle of life so often looks like.
We are given blessings to enjoy: just as Job had lots for which to be thankful. Then we suffer setbacks which apparently come out of left field and seem to have no direct causal link to our own way of life. We cry out to God in our pain and loss. Others gather around us and are of, shall we say, ‘mixed’ help.
Then God comes to the rescue, reminding us he is still there and that the suffering has not been some random event beyond his oversight. He doesn’t provide answers to the philosophical and practical problem of suffering. But he does assure us of his presence in the midst of it.
And then all is put right again. And it is here that the book of Job departs from our real-life experience. We don’t always recover our earlier material, psychological or physical wellbeing. We don’t always see what the old prayers call ‘a happy issue out of our afflictions’.
Perhaps we can read this ending of Job not as some sort of idealistic fairytale ending to a normal human life, but some sort of description of how all will be well in the new heavens and new earth. Job himself was given a taste of heaven in his story. We may have to wait for the real thing. Indeed, all will end well, but the happy ending may sometimes not appear in our lifetime.
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