I’ve been using a great resource lately called the Lectio Divina Journal . I can’t recommend it enough.
The reading for the day led me to Job 5. I’ll admit, I don’t spend a lot of time in Job and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that being a common practice for many of us.
The reality of suffering is just too much for us in our constant news cycle. Plus, Job’s story gives us all the contradictions we can handle, paradoxes and assumptions that we simply have to sit with and let them be.
Reading Job 5, however, I noticed something in myself as I responded to the text that was new and jarring.
I realized, when it comes to this story, we don’t have a clue.
Job 5, if you just read it in isolation from the rest of the book, is incredibly encouraging. It is all the great Bible words running into one another, a clear stream moving on to glory land.
However, they’re flowing out of the mouth of someone who isn’t heroic or even admired in the story. Eliphaz, one of Job’s “counselors” weaves a tapestry about the goodness and faithfulness of God all the while (metaphorically) putting his hand on Job’s open wound, declaring that something fundamentally sinful caused the terror and tragedy Job had – and was – experiencing.
We don’t have a clue.
We can read Job from our little perch and while weeping for Job we also throw stones at his counselors for being obtuse and obnoxious. But what else did they have to work with?
Could they possibly conceive that the story playing out before them was a seemingly twisted divine game of “chicken” between God and Satan to see how far Job would go under pressure? Could they have handled that information without it ripping their mind and heart to bits? Doubtful.
They didn’t have a clue.
We only look down on them because we can read the story as complete – restoration done, God regaining control, rinse and repeat.
Most of the time, in the middle of the muddy blood beating situations we experience there’s a degree of the unknown that we can’t even describe. We can’t get our hands around it.
Like Job’s counselors, we don’t have a clue.
We don’t know why it happened to us.
We don’t know why he/she left.
We don’t know why we were downsized.
We don’t know why the demons are back.
We don’t know why this always happens to us.
Of course, this is all partial truth. We do know how these things happened, we know they’re real events and they happen to other people. We just don’t know how they came to rest in our world.
We don’t have a clue.
So, sitting in my chair, I had to make sense of this reality. I don’t have any more insight than Job’s buddies on the suffering we all feel from time to time.
So we need a spiritual life that from time to time embraces our cluelessness. It’s our only choice.
I believe that kind of thinking gives us all kinds of potential beauty – the clueless are open to direction from others, wisdom from outside because there’s nothing in us that blocks it. Cluelessness is ready to surrender when the time comes.
More than all of this, the story of Job needed one clueless person who would do this:
I don’t know, Job. But here I am. And here you are.
We can know that, and that’s enough for now.
When we don’t have a clue, when we don’t understand, the store of gifts we have to give ourselves or each other shrinks down to the simplest and most raw.
The great gift of cluelessness is the beauty of presence. When we are clueless we can be with, because we aren’t distanced by advice and theological proofs. The time will come to talk about God’s reality, and it does for Job, but for a moment we need something else.
When we suffer, we need that beautiful cluelessness that gives birth to curiosity. We need the presence of other clueless pilgrims because the words that are most necessary, most valuable are these:
I don’t know.
But here I am.
We don’t have a clue. And you know what, there is a time where that cluelessness is beautiful.