"Job, you KNEW that you had God painted into a corner. And, even though you were afraid that he would respond to you in bluster rather than in calm and dispassionate talk, you were pretty confident that you had your case. God was going to fess up, and you would be RIGHT.
But let me ask you about that, Job. What ultimately, did you want? We have people in 2005 who only talk about "outcomes." That is a kind of new word, a word that developed in the 1980s when we started creating the position of "strategic planning" VP in large corporations. Of course, Job, the way it works in America is that if you invent a new position, you have to give it something to do. But, before you know what you are doing, you have to develop a vocabulary that no one else speaks, because if you talked like everyone else they might get the impression that you were not needed. So, you had to do three things, really. You had to develop a specialized vocabulary to confuse people. You had to then have a professional journal or two where you could use your words on each other and come to some agreement on what the obscure terms meant--indeed, it would be considered scholarship to fight over terms that you had invented in order to come up with their meaning when, in fact, there were perfectly good English terms to describe the phenomenon lying right at hand--but you had to get rid of those terms lest people think you were useless. Then, the third thing you had to do was to have a master's and preferably a Ph. D. program in "strategic planning" that would churn out people who would speak this obscure language. I always liked it also, Job, that people who spoke this language and wrote lots of articles on this new discipline would speak of the journals as "the literature" of the subject. Literature? Give me a break. It is basically a scam, a species of fraud, that we honor in our culture because some powerful person said, "I wish I had someone around who could tell me about future trends." So, we invent a field, we give it a name, we given them vocabulary, they become obscure toward the general public, they go to conferences at nice hotels, they write papers, they get into arguments with each other, they share good wine, they bring economic development to all those mid-sized American cities that decided to build conference centers in the 1980s and 1990s and they then try to bequeath their worthless words to us.
That really was a kind of screed, wasn't it, Job? But, I really am going somewhere. Here is where I am going. When you were nurturing your complaint, cultivating it, writing it, refining it, what really did you WANT from God? Did you just want a declaration from the divine saying, "Job, you are right?" Or, were you playing for higher stakes? Did you want it all back? But, you know, Job, you never say what you want from God other than a sense of being vindicated. But, now that I think about it, how valuable is that? What would have been the value of being found to be "right" by God? Well, I suppose you could have had inscribed on your tomb, "Here lies Job. He wrote a great book. He was right." Is that really what you were looking for, Job? You know, Job, maybe the genius of God, if you don't mind me using the phrase, is that he wanted much more than for you to be correct. Oh, he would admit that you are right (at least that is how I read 42:7), but maybe God was smart enough to know that what you really needed was NOT ONLY to be called right. You needed a life, a sense of connectedness to people, a sense of satisfaction. For, come to think of it, would it ultimately have been satisfying to you, Job, just to have been found to be "right"? It is like the prestige factor of teaching at an Ivy-League school. Every night you can go to bed and say, "Yes, I teach at Brown," but if your life is in shambles, what benefit is that? Oh, you might be able to get a few fawining students, but you actually can get those if you teach at Sterling College in KS, too, for example. So, God was smart enough to realize that what you needed, Job, was not simply to be declared right; you needed something else.
So, something like this was happening in you, Job, wasn't it? All you knew in 42:6 is that you had been overwhelmed. That complaint, which you grasped with such fury and such strength, had been forced out of your little hands. Well, maybe you had willingly given it up. All of a sudden another reality was opened up for you, and you were unsure how to handle it. But you had dorpped your complaint. Thus, the thing that you felt as God spoke to you in 42:7 was NOT ONLY that you were right, but that somehow it didn't matter any more. You had learned that the secret of life was to yield rather than to assert, to let go rather than to grasp, to give up rather than to win, to deny rather than to claim. That, indeed, is how you felt at the end of 42:7. With me, Job?