"Good morning, Job. I have been thinking a lot since our last conversation about how you must have felt between 42:6 and 42:7. I think you are headed back to the ash heap, vacant and emotionally spent, yearning for that one place in life where you could speak in freedom in your pain. Your bed didn't comfort you because of the nightmares sent by God; maybe the ash heap would provide that solace. Maybe your next words or thoughts would be like Job 3 all over again, but now with the intervening chapters as part of your experience bank. I bet you just are too stunned to move. Maybe the next move in life isn't yours. The rules have been so rewritten for you in the last few chapters that you don't know what to do.
And then, God breaks the silence. God speaks again. Wow, you never could get God to speak and now, once he starts, he never shuts up! You have realized that God is just a bit too powerful for you. You really can't deal with God face to face: it just is too overwhelming. But still you listened to what God had to say.
God said, "My wrath is kindled..." (42:7). Wow, Job, I bet when you heard those words, your eyes rolled. I bet you thought, "Here we go again. God, angry? Give me a break, God. All you ARE is angry! That is your persona, your business card, your identity, God. 'Hi, I'm God, and I'm pissed.' That's YOU, God." I bet you said the following to yourself, Job, even before God got out the rest of the sentence in 42:7. You thought, 'Yep, God has been angry a good long time. As a matter of fact, that is the whole problem with my life--God's anger.'
And I bet in that split second you rehearsed in your mind all those instances of God's anger from the past that drove you crazy. As a matter of fact, in every speech of yours, from Job 9-19, you attributed God's actions to the divine anger. Remember when you said, in your seeming hymn of praise to God (though you twisted the traditional theology pretty nicely when you sang it; and you sang it in the third and not second person), "he who removes mountains, and they do not know it, when he overturns them in his anger" (9:5)? I know you remember that, Job, because you have a great memory. Well, that means that you believed that anger was the motive force in God's creative activity. And, a few verses later you talk about how God "will not turn back his anger; the helpers of Rahab bowed beneath them" (9:13). You know what you are doing, Job? You are saying that the act of creation, including a victory over that pesky monster Rahab, was really driven by God's anger. It is anger from the beginning, or, as the lawyers say, ab initio. You don't believe in the majestic account of Genesis 1, do you Job? There, God created by his word. God spoke and it happened. Presto chango. Didn't even have to snap the divine fingers.
But you know better, don't you Job? You knew that anger is the basic emotion driving God, don't you? You know that it was "his chariots of wrath the deep thunder clouds form, and dark is his path on the wings of the storm," don't you? At least you deeply suspect this, don't you, Job? And later, when you imagine getting close to God, in that brilliant and most heart-rending poem of yours in ch. 14, you can imagine the time when God would put you aside in Sheol until his wrath is past, can't you (14:13)? What you mean in that passage must be that you believe that God is having a series of horrible, terrible really bad days, even if it isn't in Australia, and that if only God would get you out of the line of fire for a while, his anger would pass and you guys could talk again.
But you realize that this just isn't going to happen. Why? Because, in your next speech, you recount how God has torn you in his wrath and hated you (16:9). I don't believe that you have any stronger words against God than that line, Job. And then, a few chapters later, when you can't get off the idea that God has assaulted you, you say "he has kindled his wrath against me, and counts me as his adversary" (19:11). Wrath it has been since the beginning. Wrath it is as God brings on your distress. Wrath it is as you suffer. How do you deal with an all-powerful force who is just always angry?
I bet this is the way you heard those first words of God in 42:7, isn't it, Job? Before God even got to the rest of the sentence, it is as if your mind locked in on those words and took you on a speed-of-light tour back to the frozen moments of your past when you knew that it was God's anger that motivated all things. Perhaps you thought, when you heard, "My wrath is kindled," that God was just going to do it all over again. Your real nightmare, then, might have been that chs.3-42:6 was only the first act of a five act play. 'Here we go again. God is angry. What more do I have to suffer?'
Now another verse you uttered in the context of your earlier distress must have come rushing back to you, too. Remember when you said, "If I wash myself with soap and cleans my hands with lye, yet you will plunge me into filth, and my own clothes will abhor me" (9:30-31)? I know you recall that, too. What you meant there was that whatever you do, however "clean" you try to make yourself, God will just dip you back in the mud. Dipped Job. Vanilla soft serve at Dairy Queen dumped into the caramel. Or something like that. That is what you are thinking Job. You do your all, your best efforts, and God will just soil you again.
Isn't this what sped through your mind, Job, in the moment you heard God say, "My anger is kindled?" It terrified you yet more, didn't it? Even though you couldn't stop time and go through this chain of thought like I just did, I bet that your mind, which works far faster than spoken words, created this mini-scenario as I have described.
But then, you heard the rest of the sentence....