Job 38:1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: 2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge 3 Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. 4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
After many chapters of Job and his friends debating the cause of Job’s terrible misfortune – losing his entire family, having his home and all possessions destroyed, even losing his personal health just short of death – God himself weighs in on the matter. For Job’s friends, the problem was obvious. Job must have been suffering because of some unnamed sinfulness, There was no other explanation. They continually asked Job to confess, but Job refused.
Job vigorously challenged their assumptions. Job was not aware of any unfaithfulness he had towards the Lord, which was why he was so bitter at having suffered so much. It wasn’t right. Job challenged God to name his transgressions to justify his adversity.
But God didn’t really answer Job’s question. Instead, God pointed out the extremely limited perspective from which Job and his friends tried to assess the cause and effect in Job’s misery.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.”
The implied answer is – Job and his friends were not present when God laid the foundation of the earth. They do not have understanding as God does. Two points that emerge for me this morning, niether of which I particularly care for:
1. I would rather have hoped that God would have a more pastoral/comforting response to Job’s suffering than is exhibited in the passage. If you go back and read the first chapters of Job you will remember just how devastating were Job’s losses and suffering. God’s tone is more one of sarcasm than empathy. Not cool God. Not cool.
2. That said, God is correct. Compared to God, Job and his friends have very little understanding. All they see is what’s in front of their faces. God sees the entire universe, which he created. As little people we cannot understand the big picture, which is frustrating to us when we’re trying to make sense of suffering.
Are you struggling today? Are you feeling overwhelmed with life’s burdens? I expect many of us are, in one way or another. Like Job, we have very limited understanding. There are many things that happen in life we cannot explain, especially the hard stuff. Let’s pray together.
Lord God, you know that we have extremly limited understanding compared to you. No, we were not present when you formed the earth or laid its boundaries or any other such thing. We are mortals, full of sin and weakness. Nevertheless, we are your children. Today, we’re sending out an S.O.S. to you. We cry out to you in our struggles, O God. Have mercy upon us in our time of need. For we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.