The Eyes of Experience: A Sermon on Job, part 2 of 6

by Reverend Kenneth E Kovacs, PhD

 Imagine yourself in Job’s skin. Put yourself in his experience. Imagine what his encounter with Yahweh must have felt like for him. What does one say in such a moment? What does one say in a moment of being totally overwhelmed, the kind that leaves you speechless? What do you say when you’re completely overcome by life or reality, struck by beauty or tragedy (perhaps both at the same time)? How do you respond? What is there to say? Often there’s nothing to say. Language is inadequate. And so we are brought to silence.

Then, from out of the silence, with humbled conviction born of experience, Job begins to speak. And it’s precisely here, I think, that we find the theological nerve center of the Book of Job. Job’s answer to Yahweh, his response here, is wild and electric like the voice of God. Job acknowledges, “I know you can do all things and nothing you wish is impossible.” Then Job recalls the question Yahweh first poses to him from out of the whirlwind. But now Job turns the question toward himself and asks: “Who is this whose ignorant words cover my design with darkness?”[1] Who, indeed? Who is this God? Wrestling with the truth now unfolding before him, Job confesses this stunning insight: “I have spoken of the unspeakable and tried to grasp the infinite.”

Job begins to recall other words from Yahweh, when Yahweh sarcastically chastised him for his arrogant complaints: “Listen and I will speak: I will question you, please, instruct me.”[2]

And then Job, finally, comes to the moment of revelation, a moment of life-changing insight. In profound realization, he says, “I had heard of you with my ears; but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I will be quiet, comforted that I am dust.”

From silence to silence.

———

You can download the complete essay, published by the Zürich Lab here, or find it on Amazon in Kovacs’s recent collection: Out of the Depths: Sermons and Essays (Parsons Porch, 2016).

This week, we are revisiting “The Eyes of Experience: A Sermon on Job” by Reverend Kenneth E. Kovacs, PhD, originally published through the Zürich Lab. We are republishing the essay in six sections over six days, part of our preparations for a lecture, book launch and exhibition at our Berlin LabThe Legend of Job in Art, Philosophy, and Psychology on Saturday October 14, 2017 and for our Exploration in Jerusalem this December 11-16. With The Legend of Job we’ll celebrate works by acclaimed Newfoundland artist Gerry Squires and calligrapher Boyd Chubbs who, in 2015, created the first illustrated edition of the Book of Job; the work was Squires’ last. A copy of the book will be on display at the Berlin Stillpoint Lab through November, and in December, at the Zürich Stillpoint Gallery.

 

Notes

[1] This is originally asked of Job in 38.2.

[2] This is originally directed at Job in 40.7; emphasis is mine.

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