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Reflection Title: 
Though He Slay Me, Yet I Love Him
Reflection Content: 

Job’s story of suffering is matched by many in our world. Having done everything right—built a prosperous life with a fine reputation, had a beautiful family and friendships galore—suddenly, through no fault of one’s own, it is all swept away. Job was not the first to end up on the dung heap, rocked by excruciating pain and sorrow, tempted to despair. Job is not the last one who will be there, either, wondering, Why me? What did I do wrong? Why is God (or the fates) out to get me? And friends come pretending to comfort, asking if there is not some hidden secret that has led to the suffering, implying it may be deserved. Friends as tempters? Job sits alone in his trial. The biblical word for test and trial, nisayon, means “experience,” for such times are ubiquitous in human life; human life is tinged with sorrow. In the midst of it, in the depth of desolation, Job turns from those who incline him to curse, and turns from his own inclination to curse. His anguished cry, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!” Is it resignation or acceptance? What could such a stance of faith possibly mean?

Story Title: 
Hedged in by God
Story Content: 

Why should the sufferer be born to see the light?

Why is life given to [those] who find it so bitter?

They wait for death but it does not come,

they seek it more eagerly than hidden treasure.

They are glad when they reach the tomb,

and when they come to the grave they exult.

Why should a man be born to wander blindly,

hedged in by God on every side?

My sighing is all my food,

and groans pour from me in a torrent.

Every terror that haunted me has caught up with me,

and I that I feared has come upon me.

There is no peace of mind nor quiet for me;

I chafe in torment and have no rest.

—Job 3:20–26

Contemporary Story Title: 
God Is Not Good
Contemporary Story Content: 

J.B. is a 1958 play based on the modern retelling of the biblical figure of Job, starring Raymond Massey and Christopher Plummer. It was written by the American playwright Archibald MacLeish and was directed by Elia Kazan. The play opens with the characters Mr. Zuss and Nickles in discussion about Job, assuming the roles of God and Satan, respectively.   


Mr. Zuss: Challenge God!


Nickles: Crying to God.


Mr. Zuss: Demanding justice of God!


Nickles: Justice!

No wonder he laughs. It’s ridiculous. All of it.

God has killed his sons, his daughters,

Stolen his camels, oxen, sheep,

Everything he has and left him

Sick and stricken on a dung heap—

Not even the consciousness of crime to comfort him—

The rags of reason.


Mr. Zuss: God is reasons.


Nickles: For the hawks, yes. For the goats. They’re grateful.

Take their young away they’ll sing

Or purr or moo or splash—whatever.

Not Job though.


Mr. Zuss: And that’s why.


Nickles: Why what?


Mr. Zuss: He suffers.


Nickles: Ah? Because he’s . . . 

Not a bird you mean?


Mr. Zuss: You’re frivolous . . .


Nickles: That’s precisely what you do mean!

The one thing God can’t stomach is a man,

That scratcher at the cracked creation!

That eyeball squinting through into His Eye,

Blind with the sight of Sight!


Blast this . . .


Mr. Zuss: God creaed the whole world.

Who is Job to . . . 


Nickles: Agh! the world!

The dirty whirler! The toy top!


Mr. Zuss: What’s so wrong with the world?


Nickles: Wrong with it!

Try to spin one on a dung heap!


Nickles: I heard upon his dry dung heap

That man cry out who cannot sleep:

“If God is God he is not good,

If God is good He is not God;

Take the even, take the odd,

I would not sleep here if I could

Except for the little green leaves in the wood

And the wind on the water.”

Archibald MacLeish, (1892-1982). J.B.: A Play in Verse.

Artwork Title: 
Artwork Content: 

Léon Bonnat, (1833–1922) was a leading portraitist in Paris. He developed his artistic approach under the influence of Spanish Baroque paintings by Diego Velázquez, Jusepe de Ribera, and others. His Job, reminiscent of Ribera’s definitive style, also signals the emerging Modernist school. He was the teacher of John Singer Sargent, Gustave Caillebotte, Georges Braque, Erik Werenskiold, Edvard Munch, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and many other Modernist painters. Bonnat’s Job, based on the haunting tale found in the Bible, has a distinctive psychological realism and radical naturalism. The stark naturalism is achieved by the portrayal of Job’s emaciated nudity, which resembles the images of martyrdom of the saints in Ribera’s works. It stands in stark contrast to the Academic paintings of his day, where Academic painters who idealized male nudes dominated the artistic scene at the Salon de Paris. Bonnat’s Job speaks to the ubiquitous nature of human suffering. Outrageous physical pain, mental struggle, and disillusionment are expressed by the multiple elements combined together: Job’s facial expression with his eyes raised up in prayer, and the pose and gesture of distress. The play of light, shadow, and darkness, reminiscent of great renaissance painter Caravaggio, (1571–1610) also contributes to a feeling of endless anguish and distress. 

Question Title: 
Why not despair?
Question Content: 


Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.

—Job 13:15

The Dung Heap

Job is in the throes of despair, calling out. Have you known this moment? Have you sat with a friend, a stranger, or a loved one as they cried? Not all misfortune is born of our passions, our missteps. Have you been caught up in misfortune not of your own making, misfortune perpetrated on you from God knows where? Have you sat on the dung heap as Job did, stripped of all that is life-giving? 

Music Content: 

Psalm XIII—First movement: Lord, how long...(Andante maestoso) 

After the death of a son and then, three years later, a daughter, Franz Liszt abandoned his career as a virtuoso performer but continued his work in composition. In1865, at the age of 54 he took preliminary holy orders and devoted most of his composition to religious works. His four-movement setting of Psalm XIII demonstrates the “humanitarian” church music he propounded which he said should be “devotional, strong, and drastic—uniting on a colossal scale the theatre and the Church, dramatic and sacred, superb and simple, fiery and free, stormy and calm, translucent and emotional.”

Originally written in German, “Herr, wie lange willst du meiner so gar vergessen?,” the stress and meter of the psalm adapts well to the English translation.

“Psalm 13.” Franz Liszt, Sir Thomas Beecham: The Later Tradition, Walter Midgley, tenor, Beecham Choral Society, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Thomas Beecham, conductor, EMI Classics 2011 Disc 5. Track 4.


I’ve Been ’Buked

“I’ve Been ’Buked.” traditional, Where the Sun Will Never Go Down, Chanticleer, Joseph Jennings, director, Teldec 1990. Track 8.


Nothing Left to Lose

“Nothing Left to Lose.” The Alan Parsons Project, The Turn of a Friendly Card, Eric Woolfson, lead vocals, Artista 1980. Track 9.

Image Theme: 
Image Thumbnail: 
Image Summary: 

Job, 1880. Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat, 1833–1922.

Story Audio: 
Contemporary Story Audio: 

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