By John Greco
When my wife, Laurin, and I watch football, we root for our favorite team, but we also root for overtime. As Laurin likes to say, “Free football!” I usually say something like, “We’ve entered overtime all tied up, making the previous four quarters utterly meaningless.” I’m joking, of course, but there’s a bit of truth to my logic. Every single game starts out with a tie—the score is always zero to zero—and if a game continues into overtime, it’s tied up again. It’s like both teams have to start all over.
Reading this last chapter of Job can feel a bit like this. Since Job’s health and finances are restored and he’s blessed with ten more children, the state of things at the end of the story is much the same as it was at the beginning. Did any of the chapters in between even matter? What was the point?
We might be tempted to think that the point has something to do with justice. After all, Job was righteous, so it’s only fair that everything he lost should be restored. But this was Job’s logic for most of the book. God, in His response to Job’s complaints, never suggests that Job is “owed” anything. Instead, He asks, “Who is this who obscures my counsel with ignorant words?” (Job 38:2) and “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?” (40:2). Job, in his accumulated wisdom, says in the end, “I reject my words and am sorry for them; I am dust and ashes” (42:6). As much as we’d like to turn the book of Job into a fairy tale with an obvious moral and a “happily ever after,” we are never invited to do so.
Job’s fortunes are not returned to him because he did the right thing and earned God’s favor. (He hadn’t lost it in the first place.) There is nothing in the book to suggest that when we experience suffering we, too, can turn our luck around by following three easy steps. Nothing of the sort. Rather, Job is restored because of God’s grace, pure and simple. Job was right in the beginning when he said, “The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away” (1:21). God is God—and He is free to deal with us as He chooses, as scary as that may seem. But the truth of the matter is, we are all recipients of God’s amazing grace.
This grace is seen most vibrantly in Jesus, through whom His followers have received “every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Ephesians 1:3). In Job, we catch a glimpse of this outpouring. Chapter 42 does not bring us into an overtime quarter where the score is essentially reset. Instead, notice that the numbers of sheep, goats, camels, oxen, and donkeys at the end of the book are twice what they were at the beginning (compare 42:12 with 1:3). In addition, Job is blessed with ten new children, ostensibly doubling the number of children he will have in eternity. Even Job’s long life—140 years—is twice the typical lifespan noted by Moses in Psalm 90:10.
The doubling of Job’s blessings is not meant to be a commentary on the man’s righteous standing before God. Instead, it is meant to show us that the God who commands the morning and knows when the mountain goats give birth is also the God who loves His children lavishly (38:12, 39:1). We cannot begin to count the blessings that are ours because of Jesus. In fact, “What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived—God has prepared these things for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Job is a book about the cup of suffering we all drink in one season or another, but it is also a book about God’s love, a love that overflows our cups and fills the oceans.
Written by John Greco
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