After the Lord’s challenges, Job finally understands. He sees that humanity is not the center of creation. At the same time, humanity is part of God’s creation that God cares for, in and among the wild creatures and desolate places that God delights in. Perhaps this is the best outcome that Job could have asked for. Often the end of suffering is not simply the ending of pain-inducing events, but the acceptance of what is. Job’s suffering ends, not when God restores to him what has been lost, but when Job came to understand his place in the world.
Acceptance is one of the most difficult life lessons to learn, and it is an ongoing lesson. How many times have I thought, “I will be happy when…” “…I lose 30 pounds.” “… I get a new job.” “…My partner changes.” When happiness depends on the changing of situations, happiness will always elude us. Acceptance gives us permission to love ourselves just the way we are, to love our life situations just they way they are, and to love others just the way they are. I can be happy even though I am 30 pounds overweight. I can be happy despite the unpleasantness of my job. I can be happy because my partner and I see the world differently, but we love each other just the same. Acceptance allows peace and joy to live deep within us, despite the storms that blow around us.
Job 38:25-27; 41:1-8; 42:1-6
“Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain, and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no one lives, on the desert, which is empty of human life, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground put forth grass?
“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook, or press down its tongue with a cord? Can you put a rope in its nose, or pierce its jaw with a hook? Will it make many supplications to you? Will it speak soft words to you? Will it make a covenant with you to be taken as your servant forever? Will you play with it as with a bird, or will you put it on leash for your girls? Will traders bargain over it? Will they divide it up among the merchants? Can you fill its skin with harpoons, or its head with fishing spears? Lay hands on it; think of the battle; you will not do it again!
Then Job answered the Lord: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”