The Vulnerability of Job

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. WHY.

…okay, I am done.

Maybe.

But, really, doesn’t it seem like every month this year brings more and more horrors and disappointments? Like, just when you think things can’t get worse, they inevitably find some way to get worse.

And so, I have been really, really appreciating and finding comfort in the daily scripture readings as of late, which are about the story of Job.

For those who are not familiar with the story, basically God and Satan talk with each other and God points out that Job is such a good and righteous man. In which Satan basically replies that the only reason why Job is actually good is because God has given him lots of good fortune in his life. And, if Satan were to destroy that fortune, Job would curse the name of God and hate God without reserve. And so God allows Satan to do evil, as long as he does not hurt Job.

And Satan… well, Satan does what he does best and destroys everything. All at once. Without mercy.

Talk about a bad day!

But Job remains faithful!

And so then Satan says that the only reason why Job is faithful is because he has his health. Thus, if Satan were allowed to hurt his physical body, he would surely curse the name of God.

…and Job still remains faithful.

Mind you, he is Not Happy about this whole thing. In fact, the rest of the book is basically him complaining about his predicament. Which hopefully doesn’t sound boring, because it is so, so good. It is a hard (but amazing!) book that tackles the issue of suffering and God’s role in allowing us to suffer. At first he argues with his friends, of whom are insistent that he must have done something wrong to be suffering so terribly. Then Job addresses God. And then GOD comes in and talks with him, and yes, it’s totally amazing. Here’s the first chapter of it, if you would like to start reading it. You can also find it your favorite bible… it’s the Book of Job!

Anyway, as you probably figured out right now, I found an amazing artwork that I would like to share with you…

Job, by Léon Bonnat, c. 1880. Musée Bonnat, Bayonne, France.
Job, by Léon Bonnat, c. 1880. Musée Bonnat, Bayonne, France.

It is of Job! He is an old man. His garments are torn apart, he is alone, and he is pleading for God. Alone.

And he looks so, so vulnerable.

Léon Bonnat had a singular way of painting the vulnerable. This picture is awkward to look at. It is painful to look at. Job looks so weak and frail. His veins seem to pop out of his skin while his eyes seem to roll upward in a way that seems not quite natural. While his body, holds a hint that once this man had strength — notice the muscles in his arms — veins pop out and he looks emaciated. The strength that Job once had is gone. He is alone. And now he has been reduced to pleading for God for justice.

And yet, though he grumbles against God and laments his suffering with bitterness, he remains faithful, throughout it all.

Yes, he is bitter. Yes, he is suffering. But he opens up to God and allows himself to be vulnerable to God, entrusting himself to God anyway, despite his great suffering.

And yet… this is not Léon Bonnat’s most famous painting. His most famous painting is arguably this powerful painting of Christ Crucified…

The Crucifixion, by Léon Bonnat, c. 1874. Petit Palais, Paris, France.
The Crucifixion, by Léon Bonnat, c. 1874. Petit Palais, Paris, France.

In it, Christ is alone, His eyes turned upwards and His arms outstretched, looking to Heaven. Just like the picture of Job, it is almost a photorealistic image of suffering which makes us feel uncomfortable to look at: veins seem to pop out of His skin, beads of blood drips from His wounds, and you can see every bone in His chest. At first glance, the background looks to be just an encompassing darkness, but gradually if you look at it, you can make out a horizon with an eerie red sky that seems choked with blackness.

It is a dark picture of suffering.

Of vulnerability.

And yet, it shows us of what we need to do. Because yes, we can suffer. And sometimes we can suffer in ways for things that are Not Our Fault, at all. Job was a righteous man, and he was afflicted greatly. Jesus Christ — God Himself! — was completely innocent, and He was crucified.

You can probably think of events or circumstances in your own life in which you suffered greatly for something that was not your fault.

And yet… somehow… we need to find a way to entrust our sufferings to God.

Because God is our Redeemer.

He knows our sufferings — indeed, He Himself suffered for our sakes.

And He will never abandon us.

When Job cried out to the Lord, the Lord answered him finally in a gust of wind. And, though He never gave an explicit answer to Job as to why Job had to suffer, the response is nevertheless enlightening…

Jesus Christ knows the path to the light and has turned it into a home for us. If we entrust ourselves to Him, even in the messiness of our lives, He will guide us there.

Let us follow Him.

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

4 thoughts on “The Vulnerability of Job

  • October 5, 2020 at 12:42 am
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    Beautiful reflection, Karina! Thank you for this. I NEEDED THIS! Pray for me. I am struggling!! I send you my love! Suzie

    Reply
    • October 5, 2020 at 6:37 am
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      I will definitely put you in my list of prayer intentions, Suzie! Also, I don’t know if it helps, but you’re definitely not alone in the struggle. God bless!

      Reply

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