Thoughts on Esther and Job, Day 17, Lent 2013

An audio Bible is almost necessary to find the time to get through so much of the Bible every day in this Lenten reading plan. When I can read it all with my eyes, I do, but I can't cover 10 chapters of Esther and 42 chapters of Job (rhymes with robe) before I go to work. I listened to 15 chapters or so on my bike ride into work. Both books ask the same question, Where is God?

In Esther, God is never mentioned directly. Yet, out of the community of exiles from Israel, a young woman, an orphan, is plucked from the care of her older cousin, and added to the pagan king's harem. Where is God? Esther is one of many women King Xerxes will "sample" before he selects a wife. For some reason, she "wins." Then one of the king's closest advisors turns a personal grudge with her uncle Mordecai into an excuse for a pogrom against Jews. Where is God? Xerxes does not know she is Jewish. Mordecai tells her to do something with her proximity to Xerxes. "Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this." Esther 4:14 She is terrified, and asks that her people fast and pray for her for three days. Here is God! God is indeed in this story, just never named, for who would those Jews be praying too? Eventually, the tables are turned. Haman is forced to honor Mordecai in the streets of the capital, and Jews are permitted to defend themselves from their enemies throughout the kingdom on the day planned for their massacre. They rack up a significant body count. The holiday of Purim is firmly established in honor of this great deliverance. It happened just 10 days ago, on Feb. 23rd. I read in Evan's Year of Biblical Womanhood (book review here) that the celebration is quite a raucous good time.

Job is intense. He has a great life and God takes it all away, flocks, adult children, health, spousal support, and is left with three pious "friends." They don't have compassion, they only have advice. No matter what Job says to defend himself, they refuse to believe him. If he only admitted the sin he was keeping a secret, everything would turn out alright. And they kept hammering him with religious truth. Job tells him off in his frustration several times. This tear in Job 16:1-5 is a good example.

Then Job defended himself: “I’ve had all I can take of your talk. What a bunch of miserable comforters! Is there no end to your windbag speeches? What’s your problem that you go on and on like this? If you were in my shoes, I could talk just like you. I could put together a terrific harangue and really let you have it. But I’d never do that. I’d console and comfort, make things better, not worse!
The hardest part of reading Job for me, was seeing myself in his miserable friends. I've done it to all sorts of friends, but I'm particularly aware of how I went after homosexual believers, all answers and no listening. As I've read more, and actually listened to people's stories, I've learned how much of a know-it-all jerk I've been. My blog is a testament to my deafness. I've actually taken off some of my old posts. But I've left most of them up to document my shift. I've tried to shift to love and compassion and leave judgement to God. I don't want to represent God as absent to those with same sex attractions. I don't want to contribute to the question, Where is God? I want to be Jesus to them. In Job's story, God does eventually show up. He gives no answers, only questions for Job, very similar to Jesus' style. It results in Job cowered before God's awesomeness, and God's restoration of fortunes to Job, including kids!

Here's my short list of resources from conservative believers on homosexuality who have opened my ears and mind and heart.


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