Job recognizes that God’s words are hard to hear and pierce the soul. While he is not yet ready to give up his disdain for his life, he recognizes that he is being chastised by a God who is far bigger and wiser than he is.
There is a wonderful scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (yep, letting my inner nerd come out). Gandalf has just discovered that Bilbo Baggins possesses one of the rings that have been lost for an age. Knowing the ring might be dangerous, he tries to convince Bilbo to give up the ring. Bilbo becomes incredibly anxious, making false accusations against Gandalf – he believes Gandalf wants the ring for himself. Gandalf, who is usually gentle and soft-spoken, suddenly stands tall and shouts, “Bilbo Baggins! Do not take me for some conjurer of cheap tricks! I am not trying to rob you!” And then, gently, “I am trying to help you.” Once shaken out of his own hysteria, Bilbo once again sees his old friend and they embrace.
Sometimes the hard words of a loving God can shake us to the core. But what a gift to be shaken out of our own hysteria by a God who wants to help us!
Then Job answered: “O that my vexation were weighed, and all my calamity laid in the balances! For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea; therefore my words have been rash. For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me. Does the wild ass bray over its grass, or the ox low over its fodder? Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt, or is there any flavor in the juice of mallows? My appetite refuses to touch them; they are like food that is loathsome to me.
“O that I might have my request, and that God would grant my desire; that it would please God to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off! This would be my consolation; I would even exult in unrelenting pain; for I have not denied the words of the Holy One. What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient? Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze? In truth I have no help in me, and any resource is driven from me.
“Those who withhold kindness from a friend forsake the fear of the Almighty. My companions are treacherous like a torrent-bed, like freshets that pass away, that run dark with ice, turbid with melting snow. In time of heat they disappear; when it is hot, they vanish from their place. The caravans turn aside from their course; they go up into the waste, and perish. The caravans of Tema look, the travelers of Sheba hope. They are disappointed because they were confident; they come there and are confounded. Such you have now become to me; you see my calamity, and are afraid. Have I said, ‘Make me a gift’? Or, ‘From your wealth offer a bribe for me’? Or, ‘Save me from an opponent’s hand’? Or, ‘Ransom me from the hand of oppressors’?
“Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone wrong. How forceful are honest words! But your reproof, what does it reprove? Do you think that you can reprove words, as if the speech of the desperate were wind? You would even cast lots over the orphan, and bargain over your friend.
“But now, be pleased to look at me; for I will not lie to your face. Turn, I pray, let no wrong be done. Turn now, my vindication is at stake. Is there any wrong on my tongue? Cannot my taste discern calamity?”