Friday, June 19, 2009

You Call This Comfort

Bildad speaks, the second of Job's friends in chapter 8. He seems to be a student of "those who forget history are destined to repeat it." He begins with the recent past. This is verse four of chapter eight: "When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin." So Job should see in the example of his children. He tried to intercede on their behalf, but God punished them for their transgressions.

Bildad calls on the name of our fathers and says in verse eight: Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned. We see from the past that evil begets suffering so it is only logical to conclude that Job is being persecuted for his transgressions. In many ways, Bildad repeats some of the logic of Eliphaz.

Job responds in chapter nine, affirming some of the arguement, admitting his sinful nature shared with all of humanity, but as for his affliction he still maintains that he has done nothing more than any other member of humanity to bring this upon himself. Job finds himself at a point where his experiences do not match his understanding. His friends are stuck in the "mental sets" of the past, but Job is in the midst of a cosmic "cognitive dissonance." He recognizes his situation on some level for what it is-- a unique circumstance that defies the wisdom and knowledge handed down from the ages.

Too often, we find ourselves in this experience. What we know doesn't fit with what we experience so we continue down a destructive path of business as usual and use the same tried and true strategies for solving problems when those strategies no longer apply. Job is at the cusp of understanding and continues to hold on to faith even in the midst of his suffering.

What will his friends say to this?

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