Job 42: 1-6, 10-17. Today we reach the end of the book of Job. Job, having listened to God’s assertion of their primacy, acknowledges his ignorance. “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (42:3) The lectionary moves on, skipping verses 7-9, and recounts how Job’s fortunes were restored, to “twice as much” as Job had had before. Job now has 14,000 shee, 6000 camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and another 1000 donkeys. He has more children, and “in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters”. (42:15)
But I’m interested in the bit that is barely visible in the lectionary reading: what happens between Job’s acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty and the restoration of his wealth and position. Here God gets angry at Job’s friends: the ones who had tried to protect themselves by telling Job he must have done something wrong. They are required to make a sacrifice and bring it to Job. Then Job prayed for them. It’s only after Job prays for his “friends” that his fortunes are restored.
From time to time on social media someone will quote Maya Angelou, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Job would have been more than justified in ignoring his (former?) friends: they had showed him that they would not stand with him. I find it hard to think that they are still his friends. Instead, Job prays for them. That prayer opens the door for Job’s restoration. It’s something to think about: maybe we need to believe people are who they show themselves to be, and also pray for them. Praying for those who have hurt me is hard, but it’s also a comfort, because I can imagine that someone who I’ve hurt is praying for me.