Psalm 140, 142 (Morning)
Psalm 141, 143:1-11(12) (Evening)
Without fail, the image of Job covered in sores always takes my mind straight to thinking about the various blistering skin diseases, and how they are often a dermatologic emergency, because rapid and extensive skin loss can lead to infection and death.
Part of why those diseases are so fearsome is because our usual mindset is to think of skin diseases as minor annoyances, or ignore it entirely and hope it goes away. The patient delays seeing the doctor because “it’s just a rash.” The doctor delays treating the patient for the correct disorder because the usual way of dealing with rashes is to throw a cream or an ointment at it. Too much delay, and suddenly it’s erupted into a life-threatening situation.
Anyone who’s been following the national news for the last week or so can’t help but be reminded of another blistering skin disease that has erupted in Ferguson, MO–and it’s clear that ignoring it or smearing some cream or ointment on it didn’t work there, either.
The story of Job also reveals our tendencies and temptations when either we, or someone we know and love, bursts out into boils. We might be cringing at Job scraping his wounds with a pot shard, but there’s not a one of us who hasn’t picked our own scabs, repeatedly run our tongue over a cracked tooth, or bitten a mouth ulcer incessantly. It’s doubtful that any of us have ever gone through life without suggesting that a loved one simply capitulate in an attempt to rid him or herself of deep pain. None of us are immune to the mistake of heaping ashes on our heads and making a spectacle of ourselves instead of tending to the raw wounds in front of our very eyes.
We can blame others, shame others, and rail at God all we want (as we’ll see in upcoming chapters of the Book of Job)–but it won’t put protective skin back over ruptured, festering sores. Transformative healing is slow, tedious, and difficult.
As we begin to delve deeper into the book of Job, spend some time imagining yourself as every character in the story, as you also keep one eye on the news. See what you discover from the exercise.
One other thing about today’s reading…notice in that fascinating interchange between God and Satan, God’s not really angry at Satan or interested in punishing him. It’s more like they’re chatting each other up standing in line at the grocery store. I suspect it’s because ultimately, God firmly has the upper hand; evil ultimately has no power over God. It’s a good reminder during those times we feel the tractor beam of fear in the face of evil.
Which of the characters in the Book of Job seems most like you, as you’ve watched the events in the news play out this week?
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, is a grateful member of Trinity Episcopal Church and a postulant to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. She occasionally finds time to write about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid.
“Book of Job Chapter 2-5 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media)” by Jim Padgett – Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing, Ft. Worth, TX, and Gospel Light, Ventura, CA. Copyright 1984. Released under new license, CC-BY-SA 3.0. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.