As I continue on my "read-the Bible-in-a-year" program, I concluded the Book of Job yesterday morning. Whew! For those who don't know or need a refresher, this book of the Bible consists of the main character Job being put through a slew of horrible experiences, his anger with God, his friends ridiculing him unmercifully, his getting more and more depressed, and finally his direct encounter with God that caused him to see how God had been present to him all along…..even when it didn't seem like it. The phrase "having the patience of Job" comes from this story. Job certainly needs a lot of patience as he works through his understanding of who God is, and perhaps what God isn't, and how God is working in his life.
But something jumped out at me yesterday as I was reading the ending chapter of the book. At the end of the book, Job has had what might be referred to as a rebirth experience and is ready to live a life that is in communion with God. In the paraphrased version of The Message the story ends this way: "God blessed Job's later life even more than his earlier life. He ended up with fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand teams of oxen, and one thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first daughter Dove, the second Cinnamon, and the third Darkeyes. There was not a woman in that country as beautiful as Job's daughters. Their father treated them as equals with their brothers, providing the same inheritance."
This took on particular significance later in the day as I read about the first bill Barak Obama signed as president: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This bill allows women who have been paid less than men for doing the same work to sue their employers within a more reasonable amount of time. It is named after Lilly Ledbetter who worked side-by-side with her male colleagues for 19-years not knowing that they made more money than she based solely on their gender.
For years many women in the workplace have made less than their male counterparts. Never is this truer than in the places where the women who work need the money the most. Often it is single mothers working long hours at low wages, often under horrible conditions, who make less than the fathers who work just down the conveyor belt from them. Many, like Lilly, either don't know the facts or are frightened to confront their employers. No one…mothers, fathers, or children…wins in this situation.
So I was heartened by the news in the paper for once. I was filled with hope that Job's daughters and Job's sons can find equal respect through a new law that further protects everyone regardless of gender. It was a day when one of the oldest texts in the scriptures met the black and white of my morning paper. While none of us can hope to live 'another hundred and forty years' like Job did,the scriptures end his story with the words: Then he died-an old man, a full life.
I think most of us would wish for the same.
Have a blessed weekend…………………