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How to Hold God Accountable

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3 Surprises About the Almighty


There is an old story of a wealthy man whose seven sons and three daughters continually held rounds of parties. The sons and daughters would meet at one son’s house to eat and drink. Next day they all met at the next son’s house for more food and drink. And so it went, day after day until all had hosted. Then they began again.

The wealthy man was pleased at their joy but worried that some son or daughter might curse God in a fit of exuberant boasting or perhaps just deep in her or his heart. So he took steps: after every cycle of feasting and drinking, he would rise early in the morning and make offerings. In this way he consecrated his children.

The wealthy man was known far and wide for his wealth but also for being a blameless and upright man. Everything seemed to go the right direction for this man and his family.

Until it didn’t.

In this old story, the man absorbed a one-two punch: he lost all this wealth and his children. Then he lost his health. Like any absorbing movie, that’s where the story really begins.

You may recognize the story of Job. A lot of people read themselves into Job’s story: things are going well and then whammo—the winged monkeys descend outa nowhere. And then as one professor liked to say, you are left to “sit with” the problems, the questions and the profound distress, scraping your sores with broken pots. If you can make it through all 42 chapters of Job, you’ll notice some surprises.

  • Surprise #1: Job’s pals comforted him with arguments any of us if-we-do-good-we’ll-receive-good theorists might use. In each case they were sorta right but mostly wrong.
  • Surprise #2: Life is full of a fair amount of un-knowing. Well that’s no surprise. But it’s worth repeating in our culture where we demand black and white answers to most of life’s vexations. Sometimes stuff happens and we never really know why/how/who/what.
  • Surprise #3: God can be held accountable—at least as far as our questions go. Which is not to say we’ll receive answers. But the questions…it’s the questions that spur conversation. And in Job’s story God was interested in the conversation.

Wait–stay with me:

This third surprise is tricky and I’ve added a gloss that does not quite ring true. We may want to hold God accountable for the bad stuff that happens, but there are a lot of reasons why we cannot (just) do that. We could talk more about that and have a thrilling conversation. But what I can say after living with Job for a couple months is that conversation with God is, well, it just may well be everything. The most important thing. The central thing—especially after the winged monkeys and sitting with job loss or death and the scraping of open sores with broken pots—the central thing may be this conversation.


Image credit: Lara Shipley and Antone Dolezal via Lenscratch

Written by kirkistan

October 23, 2013 at 7:23 am

Posted in Ancient Text, Prayer, story

Tagged with , ,

2 Responses

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  1. The story of Job is near to my heart. Thanks for exploring it a bit.


    October 23, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    • Thanks for stopping by.


      October 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm

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