Please welcome today’s guest writer, Abraham Mena. Abraham graduated from Calvin in 2018 with a major in chemical engineering. Abe remained in the Grand Rapids area after graduation, working for the Calvin Center for Social Research and later for Master Finish Company. After graduating, Abe remained involved with Calvin’s international student community and deepened his connection with Grand Rapids by volunteering at the public museum. Abe currently lives in his hometown of Santa Tecla, El Salvador after six years living abroad in Michigan. He currently works part-time for Telus International while seeking full-time employment as a chemical engineer.
When I graduated from college, I had an extremely hard time finding a job as a chemical engineer. If you have ever been without a job, you know that it can be zero fun. If you went to Calvin, then you might have that little voice in the back of your head that whispers “God’s will” to everything that happens to you.
I needed to find an example of faith and resiliency. Enter Job.
Why Job? Because Sunday school—that’s why.
I am naturally impatient, so I went straight to the climax (chapters 38 to 42) because I needed answers. I expected that feeling of drinking cold water after a warm summer day run.
Instead I got the feeling of drinking cough syrup when you have a sore throat. Some relief as it goes down, but really you are going to have to wait a couple hours to feel better. Alas, Job was not doing it for me.
So, I went to stein night.
Days passed and little ideas about Job’s confusing ending started to flash by as I showered or washed the dishes. Just like cough syrup, sometimes the lessons we need to learn can take a little while to register.
I purchased a book specifically on Job by a Jewish rabbi named Harold S. Kushner, and he shed some light. Kushner proposes that we do not take Chapters 38 to 42 as one block, but instead as two. As we move from an incredibly detailed description of God’s portfolio in chapter 38 and 39 to the description of two hideous beasts—Leviathan and Behemoth—in chapters 40 and 41, what we are witnessing is the heightening in argumentation from God.
It makes sense then, that God’s challenge and Job’s apology are repeated as the second section begins—just as in boxing every round is announced. God is letting Job know that the second round is coming and along with it His answer.
God’s answer is confusing, so I suggest you find an experienced rabbi to elaborate. Kushner proposes that Leviathan and Behemoth are meant to represent two natural forces—chaos and instincts. Both were created by God and both are dangerous creations that God must keep in check (Job 38:10-11, Proverbs 8:29, Jeremiah 5:22, Psalm 104:9).
However, they are both part of creation, and without them there would be no world as God had intended there to be. Without chaos there would be no natural selection. Without instincts, it would be hard to get out of bed and go to work every day. Without chaos, some of us would have never met our partners. Without instincts, there would not be seven billion humans.
So how is this supposed to make me feel better about not having a job after four years—or more—of schooling? Is what I am going through fair? Is it a test?
Perhaps those questions are not what we should be asking. Railing against God because we perceive this world to not be as fair or just as promised is futile.
Perhaps the correct response to the creation we are part of is to go on and create societies that care for and support those of us living through undeservedly hard times. And for those going through deservedly hard times too.
And where else would that willingness and energy come from if not from God?
By the way, I did go on to find a job that I love, but not before internalizing that the unexpected things are not a comment on me or my abilities or my personhood.
Those of you whose future after graduating may not pan out as expected—remember that. And to those of you whose future is looking just as you dreamed it, remember to use those blessings to help our world be a little fairer.