JOB: The Missing Chapter from “I’m God and You’re Not”
(Note: This chapter does NOT appear in the current edition”I’m God and You’re Not” as per God’s request.)
When I was deciding to tell my side of the story, Lucifer, Michael, and Ashtaroth would sit with me to discuss the books of the Bible. Sometimes we’d be amused, sometimes we’d be saddened or even maddened by them, but there was one which all of us find absolutely appalling. It’s certainly not Ruth, which is a lovely story of the devotion of a young gentile woman and her conversion to Judaism, and also explains how she was an ancestor of King David. Nothing wrong with this. Nor was it Esther, which tells how a young Jewish woman in Persia became the queen and saved her people from genocide at the hands of Haman in the fifth century BCE. This never really happened, it’s what you’d call “historical fiction” nowadays, but it explains the origin of the other Jewish holiday besides Chanukah that all Jewish children love: Purim. Nice story.
No, the one that really drives us mad is the story of Job. Rabbinical tradition says it was written by Moses, who would have turned over in his unmarked grave if he knew about that, but it was actually composed by an unknown Israelite sometime around the sixth century BCE. It’s an attempt to explain my divine justice: why do good people suffer, and evil ones prosper?
The book tells of a pious man named Job, living in the land of Uz, who is blessed with “seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east.” The “Adversary” (aka Satan aka Lucifer) and God (aka me) discuss Job and his righteousness. The “Adversary” says that Job only praises God because of his blessings; if God were to take them away, then Job would curse Him. So, God and Satan make a beta, and God gives Satan permission to take everything away from Job. Job’s children and servants are all killed, his possessions stolen, and he is afflicted with boils. He is left sitting in ashes, but when his wife tells him to curse God and die, he answers “Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?”
His friends tell him that he must have done something evil to deserve his punishment, and in fact, he probably deserves worse (some friends, they are!), Job rejects their arguments, proclaims his innocence, and he wonders about my nature. And he asks that question I mentioned before: Why does God let evil prosper, and the innocent suffer?
Eventually, I come out of a whirlwind to confront Job: How dare he challenge me? Was he there at the Creation? Does he even have an inkling of my power? How can he conceive of things beyond human knowledge? Job backs down and repents of his impertinence. In the end, I restore all that Job has lost and gives him double what he had. Happy Ending!
Except that I never answer the question!
You know, even though Luce and I are not human, we have feelings. Can you imagine how hurtful it is and what a slander to our character to claim that we would ever have such a bet as the one made over Job? Look, sometimes it does get a little boring around Heaven, and we like to try new things, but to imply we’d gamble over the lives and well- beings of a human—well, that’s just sick! Just what kind of a God do you think I am?
And this is Lucifer. I always get bad press, it seems. Still, I have my pride. Even if I were the Adversary of God—which, let me remind you for the three billion, two hundred thirty-six thousand, nine hundred and eighty-seventh time, I’m not! —that kind of a bet is really shitty and beneath me. God knows how the very idea that I would propose such an evil, petty bet hurts me to the soul.
God again. And to think I would stoop so low as to intimidate a suffering being with “who the hell do you think you are, anyway, to challenge my ways?”! I should be ashamed to be called God if I did that. Such a God is nothing but a monster.
I am not a child pulling the wings off of a fly! You are not my toys to be destroyed at my will.
I am not the one who makes the innocent suffer. I am not the one who rewards the evil ones. Look to yourselves—to how you treat each other, to the constructs you make that constitute your societies, where you call yourselves brothers and sisters and treat each other as a means to an end. Who prevents food from getting to starving children? Who kills each other in stupid wars which only serve as an attempt to prove who’s got the biggest set of balls? Who, in their fear and blind hate of others, create Holocausts to destroy the innocent and the helpless in ever more sickening ways? Who pays lip service to their common humanity in their churches or synagogues or mosques, and worships fame or money or power as their real God? Who breaks the human heart, taking love given sincerely and openly and betrays that love, leaving each other colder and more and more bitter in that never-ending cycle?
Who prays for the kingdom of God to come, yet does their damnest to prevent it from actually happening?
Ah, but you counter with: who allows the crops to fail by preventing rain? Who lets the volcano explode and wipe out the villages? Who lets the hurricane and tornado come to destroy and kill in their fury? Who allows the earthquake to knock down buildings, bridges, and split the land while taking the lives of so many innocents? Who brought forth illness and disease upon the earth? Who remains silent in the face of humanity’s greatest evils?
Your Universe was able to be created and continues to exist only because of a balance of physical “natural” laws; without this tension, it would disappear in a flash, and you would disappear with it. These are NOT my laws; they are intrinsic to your reality. Yes, the heat and pressures within your planet’s core must be released, and volcanoes and earthquakes come, but this is how the planet builds new land and releases the fundamental elements that allow life to exist. Yes, the interplay of winds, weather planets, and water and land cause the great storms, but without these interplays, you would also not have the rain and the warmth needed to sustain your crops and allow you to live. Disease and illness, even old age and death itself are necessitated by life itself—that life may develop, and new species evolve.
Oh, sometimes I wish that I had a God! That I could full the Universe with my tears and seek comfort in something greater than myself.
There are such horrible diseases out in your world, and even God must weep. I cry with you with each death, each loss. If I could change that, I would, Oh, how I want to embrace you, take your suffering and pain from your broken hearts as if they never occurred, change the world into a complete Paradise where there is no suffering and no sorrow. But if I broke the natural order of things, you, everything around you, the Earth, the solar system, the universe—all would cease to exist.
There are times when even a God with all my power is helpless.
Then the Lord said to Job,
“Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?
You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?”
Then Job replied to the Lord,
“I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers?
I will cover my mouth with my hand.
I have said too much already.
I have nothing more to say.”
(Boy, I’m such a bully! I huff, and I puff, I scare the shit out of poor Job, I ignore everything he despairs of, and I never answer his question! Nice God, picking on the little guy.)
How dare Job challenge the Lord! Just who does he think he is?
Who does he think he is? He’s a human. And to be human is to laugh, to cry, to knows happiness and sorrow, pleasure and pain, hunger and satiation. Who can judge the nature of each’s unique suffering?
He thinks he is a social misfit. Seeking the love he is starving for, time and time again, it is snatched away, and he is left more and more bitter and heart-broken. And bit by bit he builds his own emotional prison so that he won’t be hurt anymore.
She has wanted to be a parent for more years than she cares to remember but had been without child for years and year. When, at last, just when she thinks her prayers have been answered, it seems a cruel mockery: the child she craves is born with Down’s syndrome or succumbs to childhood cancer before its first birthday.
He knows what it is to hear his child’s laughter and knows what it is to watch helplessly as that child dies from lack of bread, or as that beautiful innocent is killed by the crossfire in the desperate decaying streets of the warzones.
They know what it is to build a way of life that has survived the centuries and then is destroyed in a moment by the blind hate of men who think of him and his as subhuman and only worthy of slavery or death. They see how others rob and plunder, that I am silent as the evil prosper, growing wealthy and powerful, even admired, and made the leaders of other men. And they want to know that their short time on Earth was not without meaning, is not without some redeeming justice to come.
With the anguish of a broken soul, though not willing to commit suicide, he prays almost every night that this one would be his last. Is it possible that I am a sadistic God that enjoys his suffering? For I do not come to answer him, but seem to allow his torture to go on and on without release.
It does say something profound about you humans that some even come closer to me in through their anguish. Some see suffering as something holy, something that purifies their soul.
And there are those who come to curse me and lose faith in my goodness or my existence.
Who is right? It’s not for even me to say.
And so, I ask you, my dear reader, would you say the anguished have no right to ask ‘Why?” Shall the tortured have no right to question their torture? Are the created to be damned for questioning the creator?
There is where the Book of Job goes wrong. I tell you, as God himself, that to say, “Who is a human to challenge the way of the Lord?” is NOT an answer. It’s nothing more than a cop-out. Of course, you have the right to challenge me.
Scream your anguish, cry to the heavens, keep demanding answers to the unanswerable. I won’t condemn you. Because you’re right—it isn’t fair. It isn’t justified. And what I told you about reality, I know it’s no comfort.
Because there is still the stillborn baby, there are still the bodies of love-ones destroyed by the hurricane.
And to those that tell the suffering “God never gives you more than you can handle,” or “God is testing your faith,” let me say “Fuck You!” If that were true, I’d even say “Fuck Me!”
For then, I become a God unworthy of His creation. And the question becomes: Who am I to challenge you?
- Job 1:2-3
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(Back to text)Okay, so maybe hip-hop wasn’t one of the best of them.
(Back to text)Job 40:1-5
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