"We're all adrift in the same boat: too few days, too many troubles.
We spring up like wildflowers in the desert and then wilt, transient as the shadow of a cloud.
Do you occupy your time with such fragile wisps? Why even bother hauling me into court?
There's nothing much to us to start with; how do you expect us to amount to anything?
Mortals have a limited life span. You've already decided how long we'll live - you set the boundary and no one can cross it.
So why not give us a break? Ease up! Even ditchdiggers get occasional days off.
For a tree there is always hope. Chop it down and it still has a chance - its roots can put out fresh sprouts.
Even if its roots are old and gnarled, its stump long dormant,
At the first whiff of water it comes to life, buds and grows like a sapling.
But men and women? They die and stay dead. They breathe their last, and that's it.
Like lakes and rivers that have dried up, parched reminders of what once was,
So mortals lie down and never get up, never wake up again - never.
Why don't you just bury me alive, get me out of the way until your anger cools? But don't leave me there! Set a date when you'll see me again.
If we humans die, will we live again? That's my question. All through these difficult days I keep hoping, waiting for the final change - for resurrection!
Homesick with longing for the creature you made, you'll call - and I'll answer!
You'll watch over every step I take, but you won't keep track of my missteps.
My sins will be stuffed in a sack and thrown into the sea - sunk in deep ocean.
"Meanwhile, mountains wear down and boulders break up,
Stones wear smooth and soil erodes, as you relentlessly grind down our hope.
You're too much for us. As always, you get the last word. We don't like it and our faces show it, but you send us off anyway.
If our children do well for themselves, we never know it; if they do badly, we're spared the hurt.
Body and soul, that's it for us - a lifetime of pain, a lifetime of sorrow."
Eliphaz of Teman spoke a second time:
"If you were truly wise, would you sound so much like a windbag, belching hot air?
Would you talk nonsense in the middle of a serious argument, babbling baloney?
Look at you! You trivialize religion, turn spiritual conversation into empty gossip.
It's your sin that taught you to talk this way. You chose an education in fraud.
Your own words have exposed your guilt. It's nothing I've said - you've incriminated yourself!
Do you think you're the first person to have to deal with these things? Have you been around as long as the hills?
Were you listening in when God planned all this? Do you think you're the only one who knows anything?
What do you know that we don't know? What insights do you have that we've missed?
Gray beards and white hair back us up - old folks who've been around a lot longer than you.
Are God's promises not enough for you, spoken so gently and tenderly?
Why do you let your emotions take over, lashing out and spitting fire,
Pitting your whole being against God by letting words like this come out of your mouth?
Do you think it's possible for any mere mortal to be sinless in God's sight, for anyone born of a human mother to get it all together?
Why, God can't even trust his holy angels. He sees the flaws in the very heavens themselves,
So how much less we humans, smelly and foul, who lap up evil like water?
"I've a thing or two to tell you, so listen up! I'm letting you in on my views;
It's what wise men and women have always taught, holding nothing back from what they were taught
By their parents, back in the days when they had this land all to themselves:
Those who live by their own rules, not God's, can expect nothing but trouble, and the longer they live, the worse it gets.
Every little sound terrifies them. Just when they think they have it made, disaster strikes.
They despair of things ever getting better - they're on the list of people for whom things always turn out for the worst.
They wander here and there, never knowing where the next meal is coming from - every day is doomsday!
They live in constant terror, always with their backs up against the wall
Because they insist on shaking their fists at God, defying God Almighty to his face,
Always and ever at odds with God, always on the defensive.
"Even if they're the picture of health, trim and fit and youthful,
They'll end up living in a ghost town sleeping in a hovel not fit for a dog, a ramshackle shack.
They'll never get ahead, never amount to a hill of beans.
And then death - don't think they'll escape that! They'll end up shriveled weeds, brought down by a puff of God's breath.
There's a lesson here: Whoever invests in lies, gets lies for interest,
Paid in full before the due date. Some investment!
They'll be like fruit frost-killed before it ripens, like buds sheared off before they bloom.
The godless are fruitless - a barren crew; a life built on bribes goes up in smoke.
They have sex with sin and give birth to evil. Their lives are wombs for breeding deceit."
Then Job defended himself:
"I've had all I can take of your talk. What a bunch of miserable comforters!
Is there no end to your windbag speeches? What's your problem that you go on and on like this?
If you were in my shoes, I could talk just like you. I could put together a terrific harangue and really let you have it.
But I'd never do that. I'd console and comfort, make things better, not worse!
"When I speak up, I feel no better; if I say nothing, that doesn't help either.
I feel worn down. God, you have wasted me totally - me and my family!
You've shriveled me like a dried prune, showing the world that you're against me. My gaunt face stares back at me from the mirror, a mute witness to your treatment of me.
Your anger tears at me, your teeth rip me to shreds, your eyes burn holes in me - God, my enemy!
People take one look at me and gasp. Contemptuous, they slap me around and gang up against me.
And God just stands there and lets them do it, lets wicked people do what they want with me.
I was contentedly minding my business when God beat me up. He grabbed me by the neck and threw me around. He set me up as his target,
then rounded up archers to shoot at me. Merciless, they shot me full of arrows; bitter bile poured from my gut to the ground.
He burst in on me, onslaught after onslaught, charging me like a mad bull.
"I sewed myself a shroud and wore it like a shirt; I lay face down in the dirt.
Now my face is blotched red from weeping; look at the dark shadows under my eyes,
Even though I've never hurt a soul and my prayers are sincere! The One Who Represents Mortals Before God
"O Earth, don't cover up the wrong done to me! Don't muffle my cry!
There must be Someone in heaven who knows the truth about me, in highest heaven, some Attorney who can clear my name -
My Champion, my Friend, while I'm weeping my eyes out before God.
I appeal to the One who represents mortals before God as a neighbor stands up for a neighbor.
"Only a few years are left before I set out on the road of no return.
But their suspicions didn't slow Saul down for even a minute. His momentum was up now and he plowed straight into the opposition, disarming the Damascus Jews and trying to show them that this Jesus was the Messiah.
After this had gone on quite a long time, some Jews conspired to kill him,
but Saul got wind of it. They were watching the city gates around the clock so they could kill him.
Then one night the disciples engineered his escape by lowering him over the wall in a basket.
Back in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They didn't trust him one bit.
Then Barnabas took him under his wing. He introduced him to the apostles and stood up for him, told them how Saul had seen and spoken to the Master on the Damascus Road and how in Damascus itself he had laid his life on the line with his bold preaching in Jesus' name.
After that he was accepted as one of them, going in and out of Jerusalem with no questions asked, uninhibited as he preached in the Master's name.
But then he ran afoul of a group called Hellenists - he had been engaged in a running argument with them - who plotted his murder.
When his friends learned of the plot, they got him out of town, took him to Caesarea, and then shipped him off to Tarsus.
Things calmed down after that and the church had smooth sailing for a while. All over the country - Judea, Samaria, Galilee - the church grew. They were permeated with a deep sense of reverence for God. The Holy Spirit was with them, strengthening them. They prospered wonderfully.
Peter went off on a mission to visit all the churches. In the course of his travels he arrived in Lydda and met with the believers there.
He came across a man - his name was Aeneas - who had been in bed eight years paralyzed.
Peter said, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed!" And he did it - jumped right out of bed.
Everybody who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him walking around and woke up to the fact that God was alive and active among them.
Down the road a way in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, "Gazelle" in our language. She was well-known for doing good and helping out.
During the time Peter was in the area she became sick and died. Her friends prepared her body for burial and put her in a cool room.
Some of the disciples had heard that Peter was visiting in nearby Lydda and sent two men to ask if he would be so kind as to come over.
Peter got right up and went with them. They took him into the room where Tabitha's body was laid out. Her old friends, most of them widows, were in the room mourning. They showed Peter pieces of clothing the Gazelle had made while she was with them.
Peter put the widows all out of the room. He knelt and prayed. Then he spoke directly to the body: "Tabitha, get up."
He took her hand and helped her up. Then he called in the believers and widows, and presented her to them alive.
When this became known all over Joppa, many put their trust in the Master.
Peter stayed on a long time in Joppa as a guest of Simon the Tanner.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)