Death, Taxes, and Job

Today I’m going to pay my taxes, work on updating my living will and health care power of attorney, telling others when I want doctors to pull the plug if I can’t make that decision myself.

Death and taxes. You can’t live with them, and they get you in the end.

When discussing death, taxes, and “I know I’m right, why is all this bad stuff happening to me?”, there’s no better place to turn than Job…

Job is the oldest book in the bible. It pre-dates Rome, it pre-dates Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Newton, Jacob Astor, Joseph Stalin, and Benjamin Netanyahu :-). It pre-dates the Christian faith and Jesus’ birth by hundreds of years.

For those who may not be familiar, Job is a story of suffering. Unjust suffering. Short version: Behind the scenes (Job never learns this) Satan makes a bet with God that Job (God’s “righteous servant”) will curse God if God lets Satan take away his money, family, and health. God takes the bet. Job’s children die. His livestock is stolen. He skin breaks out in boils. His wife and his friends blame him and tell him it’s all his own fault. Some friends. His loving wife summarizes “Job, do you still hold to your integrity? (claim it’s not your fault) Curse God and Die !”

Fortunately for us (and germain to the topic of my living willing/advanced medical diretive), Job did not live in 21st Century Canada, was not counseled to kill himself to keep the governments health care expenses down, but instead endured (seemingly) pointless suffering, wrestling with the question “Why?”, and as a result we have one of the greatest works of literature in human history that has inspired theological and philosophical debate and great art for millennia. “Curse God and Die ?”

Let’s hear from Job.

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another;

Job 19:25-27

I can not read those words without hearing the setting in Handel’s Messiah.

The phrase

Yet in my flesh shall I see God

is likely going on my tombstone. It is an expression of the hope of resurrection and eternal life.

Seeing those words on a tombstone would probably make Job happy (Job happy?), because, immediately before that he said:

Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!

Job 19:23-24

But in context, he’s referring to his long-running instance that he is innocent, that his actions and thoughts are right, and that no-one (God included) can question that. Sound like any people or current cultural movements you know?

The book ends with God asking Job a series of unanswerable questions. Job finally admits he may not have the whole picture and that maybe it’s time to be humble and admit his limitations, frailty, mortality and, yes, the possibility of his own moral failings when faced with an Eternal, Omnipotent, Infinite, Just and Merciful Creator.

May I do the same.

Oh, and to those who may decide to pull the plug on me or not, yeah, the answers are often not clear. Sometimes suffering has a purpose. Do what you think is best at the time and leave the rest to God. It’s all any of us can do.

#43 of #100DaysToOffload take 2.1,