Job finally stops his long recitation of sorrow and lays out a series of If/Then statements. In chapter 31, he makes at least sixteen if statements, all articulating what he has been accused of by his friends and family (as a reason for his current sufferings) and Job basically says, if it’s true that he did any of these things, then may others benefit from his mistakes, may people change their paths, may more harm come to him, and so on. It’s a fascinating end to his arguments, and the chapter concludes with “The words of Job are ended.”
If ever people in such conditions did not physically bless and thank me
for warming them up with the fleeces of my own sheep,
If I ever used my civic strength to condemn the fatherless
simply because I knew I had allies in the courts;
Then let my arm be pulled from its socket!
Let my forearm be snapped off at the elbow for raising it against the orphan! [Job 31:20-22, The Voice]
It’s a strong presentation. But it’s also a bit of a prideful one. He’s so sure. Job is just so sure that nothing in his life would warrant his current circumstances.
And of course, for those of us reading, we already know how the story began and ends. Ultimately, he was right. Job had not sinned or lied or cheated. He had feared the Lord and acted accordingly.
But the one thing he did not consider was that God is sovereign and ultimately, can choose or not choose, do or not do as God wills. God cannot be held to logic or democracy. It is not for us, human, to necessarily figure it out. Most people don’t particularly like that concept, but I think it’s quite true.
There is, of course, if/then in our own lives as well as sowing and reaping. We don’t have God’s latitude, except for the divine intervention of the Christ, the Messiah, whose mission was to break the ongoing if/then of our cultures and our races.
There is good power too in if/then. We don’t have to throw out the baby with the proverbial bath water. It’s a core theme to a type of goal planning and success. It’s a way of talking to oneself or scheduling one’s day and the reason it has power, the “if” statement presents an accomplishment or finished task that then frees the mind to move on to the next thing, the “then.” For instance, “If I have finished writing this blog post, then I can read those articles on Journaling” or “If it is 7:30 pm, then I can spend an hour on Facebook.” (For more on this concept, How To Use If-Then Planning To Achieve Any Goal.)
Interestingly enough, there is currently a Broadway Musical about to be launched in March 2014 called, of all things, If/Then. The story seems to revolve around different paths in a life. Most of us have played that game in our heads, what if I hadn’t married this particular person and gone to college out of state instead. Then, who would I have become?
I really didn’t get any deep insights here, but I am aware of the power of “If.” It carries with it an assumption or set of conditions and I think, perhaps, I have been building the wrong if statements in my life. I just want to think about it. You?