The Book of Odds says that one in a million people are struck by lightning. It also says that one in 25,000 experiences a medical condition called “broken heart syndrome” in the face of overwhelming shock or loss. In page after page the odds of experiencing specific problems pile up without answering: What if we’re the one?
Job defied all odds. God said of him, “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). Yet Job was chosen to suffer a series of losses that defied all odds. Of all people on earth, Job had reason to beg for an answer. It’s all there for us to read in chapter after chapter of his desperate struggle to understand, “Why me?”
Job’s story gives us a way of responding to the mystery of unexplained pain and evil. By describing the suffering and confusion of one of God’s best examples of goodness and mercy (ch. 25), we gain an alternative to the inflexible rule of sowing and reaping (4:7–8). By providing a backstory of satanic mayhem (ch. 1) and an afterword (42:7–17) from the God who would one day allow His Son to bear our sins, the story of Job gives us reason to live by faith rather than sight.
Job 7:17 reads much like Psalm 8:4, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” But the similarity between these two passages ends there. David in Psalm 8 extols God for caring for humans so much that He set them over all other creatures and “made them a little lower than the angels” (vv. 5–8). Job, on the other hand, bemoans God’s attention: “What is mankind that you make so much of them, . . . that you examine them every morning and test them every moment?” (7:17–18). Job feels as if God targeted and relentlessly pursued him (vv. 11–21). Yet after God finally speaks (chs. 38–41), we see a shift in Job’s attitude: “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (42:3). Once again, we see a parallel to Psalm 8.