Job speaks at the end of this passage of the "men whose path is
hidden from them, and whom God has hemmed in." There are two points
of view here, that of the individual human considering his or her state and
that of the same person assigning a cause for this.
People are complex, to say the least. If I were to describe a human
being I would say that each person exists as an individual, literally indivisible,
but possessing such diverse powers and qualities as intellect, memory, will,
imagination, desire(s), emotions, senses, and a body, not to mention our
penchant for sin balanced by our perfectability. We experience a certain
looseness about all of this, a certain dispersion: we literally do not have
it all together with anything like the simplicity and transparency that God
does. We struggle to make all of those elements fit together, but in
spite of our efforts and even real growth we discover that we are a mystery
to ourselves, our path at least partially hidden from us.
Various men and women have faced this problem and the different aspects
of it and found our lives futile, absurd, and eventually without hope.
Woody Allen, for example, pointed in this direction when he said "I don't
know whether God exists or not, but if he does he is certainly an underachiever."
Others have looked at the same evidence and experience and seen us as a work
in progress, a creation being conducted by Someone else but in which we have
the dignity of cooperating.
To put it briefly, we are a mystery to ourselves, a magnificent gift that
we will spend eternity discovering the beauty of, but for now we must work
in faith and in hope with God to make the most of that gift, to actively choose
our lives as opportunity, as a gift to share, as a sign of hope --- not complete
here and now but always still coming to us. The mystery of that gift
is where we can encounter the mystery of the Giver. He does not hem
us in but patiently helps us to develop our gifts, to respond to our desire
for him, and to find our true and complete selves.
To disagree with the disagreeable Job, while our path is indeed partially
hidden from us, God has not hemmed us in: he is the Shepherd he leads us through
this darkness to where we need to go and where we will be filled with his