Day 16 – The Suffering of Job

Genesis 31

1 Jacob learned that Laban’s sons were saying, ‘Jacob has taken everything that belonged to our father; it is at our father’s expense that he has acquired all this wealth,’

2 and Jacob also saw that Laban’s manner towards him was not as it had been in the past.

3 Yahweh said to Jacob, ‘Go back to the land of your ancestors, where you were born, and I shall be with you.’

4 So Jacob had Rachel and Leah called to the fields where his flocks were,

5 and he said to them, ‘I can see that your father’s manner towards me is not as it was in the past, but the God of my father has been with me.

6 You yourselves know that I have worked for your father with all my might,

7 and that your father has tricked me, changing my wages ten times over, and yet God has not allowed him to harm me.

8 Whenever he said, “The spotted ones will be your wages,” all the animals produced spotted young; whenever he said, “The striped ones will be your wages,” all the animals produced striped young.

9 Thus God has reclaimed your father’s livestock and given it to me.

10 Once, when the animals were on heat, I suddenly saw in a dream that the he-goats covering the females were striped or spotted or piebald.

11 In the dream the angel of God called to me, “Jacob!” I said, “Here I am.”

12 He said, “Now take note: all the he-goats covering the females are striped or spotted or piebald — for I too have noted all the things that Laban has been doing to you,

13 I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel, where you poured oil on a pillar and made a vow to me. On your feet, then, leave this country and return to the land of your birth.” ‘

14 In answer Rachel and Leah said to him, ‘Are we still likely to inherit anything from our father’s estate?

15 Does he not think of us as outsiders now? For not only has he sold us, but he has completely swallowed up the money he got for us.

16 All the wealth that God has reclaimed from our father belonged to us and our children in any case. So do whatever God has told you.’

17 Forthwith, Jacob put his children and his wives on camels,

18 and drove off all his livestock — with all the possessions he had acquired, the livestock belonging to him which he had acquired in Paddan-Aram — to go to his father Isaac in Canaan.

19 Laban was away, shearing his sheep; Rachel in the meanwhile had appropriated the household idols belonging to her father,

20 and Jacob had outwitted Laban the Aramaean so that he would not be forewarned of his flight.

21 Thus he got away with all he had. He was soon across the River and heading for Mount Gilead.

22 Three days later Laban was told that Jacob had fled.

23 Taking his brothers with him, he pursued him for seven days and overtook him at Mount Gilead.

24 But God appeared to Laban the Aramaean in a dream that night and said to him, ‘On no account say anything whatever to Jacob.’

25 Laban caught up with Jacob, who had pitched his tent in the hills; and Laban pitched camp on Mount Gilead.

26 Laban said to Jacob, ‘What do you mean by outwitting me and then carrying off my daughters like prisoners of war?

27 Why did you flee in secret, stealing away without letting me know, so that I could send you on your way rejoicing, with songs and the music of tambourines and harps?

28 You did not even let me kiss my sons and daughters. You have behaved like a fool.

29 It is in my power to harm you, but the God of your father said to me last night, “On no account say anything whatever to Jacob.”

30 Now it may be you really went because you had such a longing for your father’s house, but why did you steal my gods?’

31 Jacob answered Laban, ‘I was afraid, thinking you were going to snatch your daughters from me.

32 But whoever is found in possession of your gods shall not remain alive. In the presence of our brothers, examine for yourself what I have, and take what is yours.’ Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had appropriated them.

33 Laban went into Jacob’s tent, and then into Leah’s tent and the tent of the two slave-girls, but he found nothing. He came out of Leah’s tent and went into Rachel’s.

34 Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them inside a camel cushion, and was sitting on them. Laban went through everything in the tent but found nothing.

35 Then Rachel said to her father, ‘Do not look angry, my lord, because I cannot rise in your presence, for I am as women are from timeto time.’ Laban searched but did not find the idols.

36 Then Jacob lost his temper and took Laban to task. And Jacob said to Laban, ‘What is my offence, what is my crime, for you to have hounded me like this?

37 You have gone through all my belongings; have you found anything belonging to your household? Produce it here in the presence of my brothers and yours, and let them decide between the two of us.

38 In all the twenty years I was under you, your ewes and your she-goats never miscarried, and I never ate rams from your flock.

39 Those mauled I never brought back to you, but bore the loss myself. You demanded compensation from me, whether the animal was stolen in daylight or at night.

40 In the daytime the heat devoured me, and frost at night; I never had a good night’s sleep.

41 It was like this for the twenty years I spent in your household. Fourteen years I slaved for you for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, since you changed my wages ten times over.

42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, the Kinsman of Isaac, had not been with me, you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God saw my plight and my labours, and last night he delivered judgement.’

43 Laban replied to Jacob, ‘These daughters are my daughters and these children are my children, this livestock is my livestock: everything you see belongs to me. But what can I do today about my daughters here or about the children they have borne?

44 So come, let us make a pact, you and me . . . , and let that serve as a witness between us.’

45 Jacob then took a stone and set it up as a memorial.

46 Jacob said to his kinsmen, ‘Collect some stones,’ and gathering some stones they made a cairn. They had a meal there, on the cairn, and

47 Laban called it Jegar-Sahadutha while Jacob called it Galeed.

48 Laban said, ‘May this cairn be a witness between us today.’ That is why he named it Galeed,

49 and also Mizpah, because he said, ‘Let Yahweh act as watchman between us when we are no longer in sight of each other.

50 If you ill-treat my daughters or marry other women besides my daughters, even though no one be with us, remember: God is witnessbetween us.’

51 Then Laban said to Jacob, ‘Here is this cairn I have thrown up between us, and here the pillar.

52 This cairn is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I am not to cross to your side of this cairn and you are not to cross to my side of this cairn and pillar, with hostile intent.

53 May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor judge between us.’ Then Jacob swore by the Kinsman of his father Isaac.

54 He offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited his kinsmen to the meal. They ate the meal, and passed the night on the mountain.

Genesis 32

1 Early next morning, Laban kissed his grandchildren and daughters and blessed them. Then Laban left to return home.

2 While Jacob was going on his way, angels of God encountered him,

3 and on seeing them he said, ‘This is God’s camp,’ and he named the place Mahanaim.

4 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in Seir, the open country of Edom,

5 with these instructions, ‘Say this to my lord Esau, “Here is the message of your servant Jacob: I have been staying with Laban and have been delayed there until now,

6 and I own oxen, beasts of burden and flocks, and men and women slaves. I send news of this to my lord in the hope of winning your favour.” ‘

7 The messengers returned to Jacob and told him, ‘We went to your brother Esau, and he is already on his way to meet you; there are four hundred men with him.’

8 Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people with him, and the flocks and cattle, into two camps,

9 thinking, ‘If Esau comes to one of the camps and attacks it, the remaining camp may be able to escape.’

10 Jacob said, ‘God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, Yahweh who told me, “Go back to your native land and I will be good to you,”

11 I am unworthy of all the faithful love and constancy you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, and now I have grown into two camps.

12 I implore you, save me from my brother Esau’s clutches, for I am afraid that he may come and attack me, mothers and children alike.

13 Yet it was you who said, “I shall be very good to you, and make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which is too numerous to count.” ‘

14 Then Jacob passed that night there. From what he had with him he chose a gift for his brother Esau:

15 two hundred she-goats and twenty he-goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams,

16 thirty camels in milk with their calves, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male.

17 He put them in the charge of his servants, in separate droves, and told his servants, ‘Go ahead of me, leaving a space between each drove and the next.’

18 He gave the leading man this order: ‘When my brother Esau meets you and asks, “Whose man are you? Where are you going? Whose are those animals that you are driving?”

19 you will answer, “Your servant Jacob’s. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau. And Jacob himself is just behind us.” ‘

20 He gave the same order to the second and the third, and to all who were following the droves. ‘That is what you must say to Esauwhen you find him.

21 And you must add, “Your servant Jacob himself is just behind us.” ‘ For he thought, ‘If I conciliate him by sending a gift in advance, perhaps he will be well inclined towards me when I face him.’

22 The gift went ahead of him, but he himself spent that night in the camp.

23 That same night he got up and, taking his two wives, his two slave-girls and his eleven children, crossed the ford of the Jabbok.

24 After he had taken them across the stream, he sent all his possessions over too.

25 And Jacob was left alone. Then someone wrestled with him until daybreak

26 who, seeing that he could not master him, struck him on the hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was dislocated as he wrestled with him.

27 He said, ‘Let me go, for day is breaking.’ Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’

28 The other said, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Jacob,’ he replied.

29 He said, ‘No longer are you to be called Jacob, but Israel since you have shown your strength against God and men and have prevailed.’

30 Then Jacob asked, ‘Please tell me your name.’ He replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ With that, he blessed him there.

31 Jacob named the place Peniel, ‘Because I have seen God face to face,’ he said, ‘and have survived.’

32 The sun rose as he passed Peniel, limping from his hip.

33 That is why to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh sinew which is at the hip socket: because he had struck Jacob at the hip socket on the thigh sinew.

Job 21

1 Job spoke next. He said:

2 Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you allow me.

3 Permit me to speak in my turn; you may jeer when I have spoken.

4 Is my complaint just about a fellow-mortal? I have good grounds to be perturbed!

5 Give your attention to me; you will be dumbfounded and will place your hand over your mouth.

6 I myself am appalled at the very thought, and my flesh creeps.

7 Why do the wicked still live on, their power increasing with their age?

8 They see their posterity assured, and their offspring secure before their eyes.

9 The peace of their houses has nothing to fear, the rod that God wields is not for them.

10 No mishap with their bull at breeding-time, nor miscarriage with their cow at calving.

11 They let their infants frisk like lambs, their children dance like deer.

12 They sing to the tambourine and harp, and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.

13 They end their lives in happiness and go down in peace to Sheol.

14 Yet these are the ones who say to God, ‘Go away! We do not want to learn your ways.

15 What is the point of our serving Shaddai? What should we gain from praying to him?’

16 Surely they have won their own prosperity, since God is kept so far from their plans?

17 Do we often see the light of the wicked put out, or disaster overtake him, or the retribution of God destroy his possessions,

18 or the wind blow him away like a straw, or a whirlwind carry him off like chaff?

19 So God is storing up punishment for his children? But the wicked himself should be punished, and should know it!

20 He himself should witness his own ruin, and himself drink the anger of Shaddai.

21 Once he is gone, what joy can he gain from his family, once the number of his months has been cut off?

22 But who can teach wisdom to God, to him who is judge of those on high?

23 And again: one person dies in the fullness of strength, in all possible happiness and ease,

24 thighs padded with fat and the marrow in the bones good and moist.

25 Another dies in bitterness of heart, never having tasted happiness.

26 They lie together down in the dust and the worms soon cover them both.

27 Oh, I know what is in your minds, what you so spitefully think about me!

28 ‘What has become of the great lord’s house,’ you say, ‘where is the tent where the wicked used to live?’

29 Have you never questioned people who travel, do you not understand the testimony they give:

30 on the day of disaster, the wicked is spared, on the day of retribution, he is kept safe?

31 And who is there then to reproach him for his deeds and to pay him back for the things he has done?

32 He is carried away to the cemetery, and a watch is kept at his tomb.

33 The clods of the ravine lie easy on him, and the whole population walk behind.

34 So what sense is there in your empty consolation? your answers are the left-overs of infidelity!

Job 22

1 Eliphaz of Teman spoke next. He said:

2 Can a human being contribute anything to God, when even someone intelligent can benefit only himself?

3 Does Shaddai derive any benefit from your uprightness, or profit from your blameless conduct?

4 Do you think he is punishing you for your piety and bringing you to justice for that?

5 No, for your great wickedness, more likely, for your unlimited sins!

6 You have exacted unearned pledges from your brothers, stripped people naked of their clothes,

7 failed to give water to the thirsty and refused bread to the hungry;

8 handed the land over to a strong man, for some favoured person to move in,

9 sent widows away empty-handed and crushed the arms of orphans.

10 No wonder, then, if snares are all around you, and sudden terrors make you afraid;

11 if light has turned to darkness, so that you cannot see, and you have been submerged in the flood.

12 Does not God live high in the heavens, does he not see the zenith of the stars?

13 And because he is up there, you have said, ‘What does God know? Can he judge through the dark cloud?

14 The clouds, to him, are an impenetrable veil, as he goes his way on the rim of the heavens.’

15 And will you still follow the ancient trail trodden by the wicked,

16 those who were borne off before their time, whose foundations were swamped by a flood,

17 for having said to God, ‘Go away! What can Shaddai do to us?’

18 Yet he himself had filled their houses with good things, although excluded from the plans of the wicked!

19 At such a spectacle, the upright rejoice, and the innocent deride them:

20 ‘See how our enemies have been destroyed! See how their wealth has perished in the flames!’

21 Well then! Make peace with him, be reconciled, and all your happiness will be restored to you.

22 Welcome the teaching from his lips, and keep his words close to your heart.

23 If you return, humbled, to Shaddai and drive wickedness far from your tent,

24 if you lay your gold down on the dust, Ophir down among the pebbles of the torrent,

25 Shaddai will be bars of gold to you and silver piled in heaps.

26 Then Shaddai will be all your delight, and you will lift your face to God.

27 You will pray, and he will hear; and you will be able to fulfil your vows.

28 Whatever you undertake will go well, and light will shine on your path;

29 for he casts down the pride of the arrogant, but he saves those of downcast eyes.

30 He rescues anyone who is innocent; have your hands clean, and you will be saved.

Proverbs 3 [9-12]

9 Be open with the wise, he grows wiser still, teach the upright, he will gain yet more.

10 The first principle of wisdom is the fear of Yahweh, What God’s holy ones know — this is understanding.

11 For by me your days will be multiplied, and your years of life increased.

12 Are you wise? You are wise to your own good. A mocker? The burden is yours alone.

Thoughts and Reflection

There are different types of suffering that Job is experiencing. We may suffer because of what we have done or consequences of sin. It can be bad decisions of either our own or others. God may permit this suffering to get our attention to “wake us up” and draw us closer to him. Suffering can also be a deeper kind of wisdom – a teaching tool.

As we have read, Job was a righteous man. He wasn’t guilty of anything and had no need to repent. Thus his suffering isn’t due to something he had done. As friends we seek to give some comfort to someone that is suffering. But we don’t know what God has in store. There are times there maybe no human answer and the answer must only come from God.

It is difficult to say when you are experiencing this suffering where or why it is affecting you at the time. There many have been some event or there may have been unknown reason but not having an answer and waiting to see what is God’s plan is hard for me to understand.

Have you experienced suffering as Job? How do you handle it?

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

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