When I need a point-of-view adjustment, I read the last five chapters of Job. That’s where the focus shifts from Job’s questions about his suffering—and his friends’ proposed answers—to God’s majesty. Job had a better basis for complaint than nearly any of us ever will. Yet after listening to Job’s grievances, God finally speaks to him: “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (Job 38:3).
God is saying, “You are unhappy with me, Job. You have questioned me. You assume you know far more than you do. Now it’s my turn to ask you some questions.” God never faults Job for being finite, only for failing to recognize that he has no right to pass judgment on the wisdom and goodness of an infinite Creator.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!” (verses 4–5).
God has always been; Job just showed up. In Hebrew culture, wisdom came with old age. God is eternally old, Job ridiculously young.
God says, “Tell me, if you understand.” Job doesn’t and can’t.
We lack God’s omniscience, omnipotence, wisdom, holiness, justice, and goodness. If we insist we have the right, or even assume we have the capacity, to understand the hidden purposes of God, we forfeit the comfort and perspective we could have had in kneeling before his vastly superior wisdom.
While this doesn’t answer the question of evil and suffering, it does suggest God’s answer is beyond our understanding. One day we’ll know far better than now; but even in eternity, God will still be infinite, and we’ll still be finite.
Job finally says to God, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.… My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (42:3, 5–6).
Charles Spurgeon stated, “He who demands a reason from God is not in a fit state to receive one.” It is when Job surrenders himself to God that he at last, at the end of himself, finds comfort.
Father, thank you for both inviting us to ask questions and instructing us to listen carefully to your answers. Help us rely on you even when we don’t understand. As a loving Father, you want us to trust you rather than blame and resent you. After all you’ve done for us as Creator and Redeemer, how could we do less?
Photo by Dawid Zawila on Unsplash