First Reading: Job 7:1-4, 6-7

Job's Reply to a Friend's Criticism

Job said:

1 “Isn’t a man forced to labor on earth? Aren’t his days like the days of a hired hand? 2 As a servant who earnestly desires the shadow, as a hireling who looks for his wages, 3 so am I made to possess months of misery, wearisome nights are appointed to me. 4 When I lie down, I say, ‘When shall I arise, and the night be gone?’ I toss and turn until the dawning of the day.

6 My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope. 7 Oh remember that my life is a breath. My eye shall no more see good.”

World English Bible

7:1-4 Scholars are uncertain when Job was composed. Dates from the tenth to the third centuries have been proposed. There are two problems with dating the text. First, nothing in the text alluded to a historical event. Second, the poetry is so stylized and condensed that the question of a single composer or multiple composers cannot be answered. The book of Job could have been edited and supplemented over the centuries.

While the text cannot be dated, ancient Hebrews could easily recognize the position and lifestyle of Job. He was a patriarch of a family clan. He worried over the family, his livestock, and his lands. Job, a faithful Jew, received what he believed was a God-given inheritance. He and his contemporaries firmly held it was their duty to pass that inheritance along to the next generation. When Job lost his family, his livestock, and his holdings in spite of his religious fidelity, he lost the opportunity to pass along his legacy. His friends questioned his allegiance to God and the wisdom of Job's primary question: "Why me, God?"

"Why me, God?" Job did not ask this question out of self-pity. He asked it because his adversity challenged everything he knew about his station in life. As long as he followed God's Law, he would know God's will with confidence. But, now that confidence was shaken to its core. Job had been faithful, despite his friends comments. Where was God's fidelity? Without it, life seemed so futile and empty, without direction. Job felt alone. He worked hard, but had not found rest.

7:6-7 Job commented on brevity of life. Yes, life was short, but he could not see God's timing. God would show his faithfulness and generosity in his own time.

No matter how we try, poor humans cannot demand God's intervention. Yes, life is short, and God is faithful. He may not show his concern in ways we expect. And his concern may interfere in daily routines, hopes, and ambitions. Ultimately, we, like Job, cannot answer the question "Why me, God?" We cannot answer it simply because only God can provide the answer.

Have you ever questioned God's fidelity? Have you ever asked the question "Why me, God?" What happened? What helped you to return to God or remain faithful, like Job?