By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
I like movies with disappointing endings.
In my opinion, some of the greatest movies have endings that are unexpected and leave the audience saying, “Wait…what?” They are the ones that have the audience on the edge of their seat, clinging to every word, and then, all of the sudden, a black screen. Credits roll. A groan from the crowd.
Sometimes a disappointing ending is more meaningful than a comfortable conclusion.
Annie, on the other hand, hates movies like that. She likes rom-coms. These movies always have a feel-good ending and a nice comfy resolution.
I don’t like Annie’s movies. She doesn’t like mine.
If the book of Job was made into a movie, chances are it would be my kind of movie. It has one of those endings that, for centuries, had made readers yearning for more.
Throughout the entire book, the question of Job’s suffering is on everyone’s mind. Every bad thing imaginable happened to Job–the death of his children, destruction of his livestock, boils and more.
In the many chapters of Job, Job’s “friends” (notice the quotations) question his suffering. No one can come up with a logical explanation. If Job really was a righteous and obedient follower of God, why did he encounter so much heartache? It was thought at the time that suffering was a direct result of your personal sin. The only conclusion they could come to was that somewhere along the line, Job sinned. Therefore, he was deserving of all that was happening to him.
But Job insists he had never turned from God. He’d remained righteous and obedient. So the question stands: Why is Job suffering?
Suddenly, God appears on the scene. The reader is hopeful. Maybe we will finally get the answer to Job’s question!
But we don’t. Like the movies I enjoy, we are left hanging. God shows Job the wonders of the world, all the amazing parts of creation that God is responsible for, but he never answers Job’s question.
And in the end, Job seems satisfied with that. In the final paragraphs, Job says to God:
“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).
For so long Job had followed God, but now that he has encountered him, he is blown away with awe. It is this encounter with God that radically changes Job’s perspective.
Maybe that’s what the disappointing ending of Job is all about. Never receiving the answer we are expecting opens us up to receive the truth of Job’s final words.
We can be followers of God and yet rarely humble ourselves enough to encounter him. I’ve met Christians who know everything there is to know about God and theology, and yet, when it comes to actually having a real and vivid encounter with God, I’m afraid they are lacking.
When we don’t just hear of God but instead truly encounter him, our whole perspective is changed and our hearts are transformed. Just like Job, it’s as if, for the first time, we are finally able to see who God is.
Sometimes, in the midst of suffering, words of encouragement and assurances, even answers to our questions simply do not help. Like Job, we sit in our ash heap, wondering where it all went wrong and what we are to do. In moments like that, we don’t need words, we need an encounter.