“‘Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face’” (Job 13:15).
The book of Job is not pretty. It offers a bleak look at the hardship of life, presenting the reality of a broken world in stark colors. The book is mostly a series of monologues between Job, the tortured protagonist, and his well-meaning but hurtful friends. Job’s speeches are frank, with no attempts to hide the darkness of his grief. His friends are appalled by his words, but that doesn’t keep him from being honest with himself and them. His words reveal how it’s possible for someone to simultaneously trust in God while still hating what’s happening.
Job is famous for holding fast to his belief in God, even when everything around him was tempting him to abandon that belief. His own wife tells him it would be better to curse God and die. His friends, trying to be helpful, insist he has sinned in some grievous way and keep urging him to repent. Yet Job holds firmly to his integrity. He claims he has not sinned, that he has done nothing to deserve this calamity that has fallen upon him. While that’s not entirely true—Job was just as much a sinner as the rest of us, after all—he was certainly a righteous man. The book of Job begins with God telling Satan about Job, praising his good character. These trials are not a result of some heinous sin.
That opens up a whole new level of questions, though. If Job isn’t being punished for a sin, why then is all this happening to him? We know that this has happened because it’s a test to see if he’ll hold fast to God, but Job doesn’t know this. Yet he still clings to God. He hates what is happening to him, and he certainly doesn’t understand it, but he still vows to hope in God. Even death won’t keep him from believing in God. His insistence that he is in the right is a mark of unfortunate pride, but his faith is still admirable. He doesn’t have to receive only good things from God to continue trusting Him. He will continue to have faith, even when literally everything has been taken away from him.