By Chic Hollis – Philosophical Musings
The Biblical story in the Book of Job is a history of a man beset by troubles and family disasters. A father of ten children who all perished. A wealthy man reduced to abject poverty. A victim of painful boils from head to foot. Because of all his personal tragedy, Job lamented being born, but he never blamed his Jewish God for his many difficulties and bad luck.
The fact that Job remained loyal to his religious beliefs and did not place the blame on his God for his painful predicament supposedly justified the author’s judgment of Job’s character as being a man that “was perfect and upright,” and “one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” For his patience, his integrity, and his faithfulness to his Deity, Job was rewarded in the end of the story with “twice as much as he had before.” (And another ten kids!)
To those humans guided by religious moralists, such behavior is exemplary and to be copied. From the perspective of a legal mind, however, Job was just a tough negotiator. In the ancient marketplace where he was a very successful businessman, he dealt with camel traders, land speculators, and the run of the mill promoters of “get rich” schemes. From his depth of experience Job learned how to negotiate or he wouldn’t have been a wealthy man with friends who came to succor him when his problems were immense.
In his discussions with his friends, Job refused to go along with them and admit that his troubles were unjustly bestowed on him by God. He held on tightly to his belief that he was not a sinner. Sin was considered the reason God punished mankind in those days. But Job weakly argued that God was not a persecutor of man because of man’s unacceptable behavior.
The crafty negotiator had no proof that God was fully aware of his present horrible state of being. Nevertheless, Job sincerely expected that by remaining devout and loyal to the Lord, he could alter his unknown future. He tenaciously held on to the advice of astute lawyers, “Don’t negotiate until you are on the steps of the divine courthouse.” And then, who knows how justice will be rendered to the innocent – to men like him considered “upright and perfect.”
This superficial Biblical story is about holding on to the popular belief that evil will be corrected somehow, sometime, somewhere if you consistently behave correctly in your small human society. But the message hidden in the story in my opinion is about negotiating for the expected beneficence of a judicious God who wouldn’t and doesn’t punish the righteous and faithful. God might test some members of the human race as He did Job, but the fabulist knew very well that in the mind of the reader or the listener: “All’s well that ends well!” Obviously, Job’s sacrifice was deemed worth it by the author.
Aren’t those of us who are facing unbending adversaries and intimidating obstacles negotiating for a better future when we are sober and conscientious? Are we being patient, longsuffering, and faithful as Job was, holding out for the possibility that our reward will come one day? If not here, hereafter? Most of us firmly believe that justice will eventually be served despite the injuries and adversities that test our perseverance and our faith in divine justice which may be quite different from human justice!
Look at the never-ending negotiations going on over the small piece of land formerly called Palestine and now called Israel. The Arabs and Jews are known world-wide for their unique ability to haggle and negotiate tough contract terms. It’s an integral part of their daily lifestyle that many Westerners don’t fully understand. Unlike Job, we are too impatient and flexible!
Learn to be a shrewd negotiator when you are in the right and seek to discover the truth about what’s actually happening. Who knows when developing such a valuable talent will “pay off” handsomely for you and how?