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The burden of God’s attention

The burden of God’s attention

We continue to sit with Job’s story through our Daily Office readings (today, Job 6:1; 7:1-21). A person most sorely grieved and afflicted, confused by the continuing goodness of God when it seems to do no good, Job, the symbol of faithful and unrelenting suffering, finds no escape from God’s attention. He has no choice but to believe, since God is. He has no respite but to rail against all that ails him; yet God, he knows, will not let him go … He is a parable for the prophet, a paragon for the saint, a mouthpiece for the protest, a sibling to the sorrowful whose sighs are too deep for words.

Job will not restrain his mouth. His prayer
is full of dried blood and teeth, gnashing
at God, he complains, “What is a man,
that you should look at him; how long
will you watch over me, so that I cannot
swallow; why place your eye
on me as on the sparrow;
let me go.”

By night he dreams of prophets, wild
men with camel hair and fire. From the deep well
of sleep, he counts the his heartbeats as lightning,
wonders who, now, has died, and why
it is not he; dreams of Jonah, cauterized
by the stomach acid of great fish,
wakes up sloughing his skin like a serpent;
his eyes are yellow.

is silent.

“I shall lie in the earth,” offers Job;
“Thou wilt seek me, but I shall not be.”
He knows it to be untrue.
His lips are cracked and utter nonsense.
For as long as God lives, Job
will continue beloved,
and beholden,
and bewildered.

The Revd Rosalind C Hughes is the Rector of the Church of the Epiphany, Euclid, Ohio, and the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing. Her blog is over the water

Illustration: Job and his friends, by Ilya Repin / Public domain


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