by Christopher Harbin

The Unsatisfying Finale
Christopher B. Harbin
Job 42:1-17

While living in Mexico, we had many conversations with our neighbor. He was a waiter at a local restaurant we frequented. We ate his specialty spaghetti there on a regular basis. He was also a graphic artist at the local university and our go-to expert for learning what kinds of paper and craft supplies were available in the local market. We were witnesses and photographers at his wedding. We also had deeper conversations with him, some of which left me puzzled as his perspectives were at times to distinct to my own. One such conversation had to do with his distaste for Hollywood movies. Every movie made in Hollywood had a happy ending, and that is just not true to life. When is an ending just too good to be true?

His comments took me aback. On the one hand, I wanted to say, ''Of course, they have a happy ending! What would you expect?'' I wanted to answer, ''Why pay good money for a movie that leaves you depressed?'' I wanted to say that every story has to end somewhere, and hope is a good place to wrap one up. I am not sure exactly how I responded. I do know that I did not have much to say on the topic, as I had never really thought about it before. I liked happy endings, and I could not quite understand why they made him uncomfortable.

When it comes to the book of Job, however, I can somewhat understand how a happy ending can be less than satisfying. The ending of Job does not ring true to life. More than that, however, it is unsatisfying, because it does not resolve the issues raised in the other forty-one chapters before the end. It leaves us hanging with all of the questions that arose from the beginning and throughout the rest of the poetic narrative. Why did Job have to suffer? What was the point of it all? What good does restoring Job's wealth and the number of living children do in light of all the losses he suffered?

Job begins along the very same classic lines of the European fairy ...

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