Recently Milton and I had the honor of sitting down with several pastors in the Kansas City area to discuss Whirlwind. I can’t even begin to put into words how grateful I am for the ways in which this thoughtful group pushed us to further unpack our perspectives on this difficult biblical character. I’ve long realized that something good is happening when people are saying, “I never thought of it like that before!” and I found myself uttering this as much as anyone.
Furthermore, I was again reminded of how truly, well, brilliant, my co-author, Milton Horne, is. Once again I listened as he laid out what was happening in the lives of the Israelites during the time the book of Job was emerging. He has this gift of painting pictures as if he were actually there, taking it all in, wrestling with the sages. Milton and I have been working on this project for a long time, yet he still was able to help me grasp more deeply his contention that Job is not a book about suffering, it is a book about disinterested faith.
He pointed out to the group that the book almost certainly became important as the Israelites were returning “home” from captivity. Only the home they returned to was devastated. For most of their existence they had assumed their covenant with God insured that they would never, ever experience the reality they were now facing. Like Job, they assumed the covenant meant protection. Like Job, they had to have wondered just what the covenant was worth if life came to this.
The group pushed us in more creative ways than can be described here. But there is one key idea that I keeping turning over. I believe that ongoing spiritual transformation requires us to continually ask the question, “What if I’ve misunderstood what God is up to?” The group helped me to see that this is a lot easier question to wrestle with in a counseling office than it is in a sermon.