Job 36:16-33: The Satisfaction That Only He Can Give
December 17, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
John 19:17-27, Revelation 14, Job 36:16-33, Nahum 1-3
Elihu is answering Job’s complaints. Job is suffering terribly. Why has God allowed this to happen? Job’s so-called “comforters” have been saying that it is because Job has done something to deserve this suffering. But Job has refused to agree. He has done nothing to deserve this suffering. Why, he keeps on asking, has God allowed all this to happen? Job has not lost his faith or his trust in God, but he is unembarrassed to ask the hard questions. The questions that pertain to the problem of suffering.
Elihu, however, will have none of it. For Elihu, is it wrong for Job to ask these questions. He should accept that God, as good and sovereign, knows better and is doing what is right. What else is there to say? Surely if God is good and all powerful, whatever is happening must be right and good. Job’s role is to accept all this from God’s hands. And not complain.
This is common advice given today. Certainly, we are not to be like the Israelites who grumbled in the desert. Murmuring and discontent is not only an un-Christian way of being, it is a deeply dangerous habit. Lack of thanksgiving leads to bitterness and hardness of heart, and even to turning away from God, as you refuse to recognize his good gifts in your life.
But while we must be grateful, Job is right to ask these hard questions. Why is this happening? David too in the Psalms will at times ask very difficult questions. It is hard to believe that God is both good and sovereign in this world, hard to believe that when we suffer or when we observe the suffering of others. No trite or simplistic appeal to God’s sovereignty, however poetically couched (as Elihu does here) is a sufficient answer to the victim of abuse, slander, vicious maiming, unwarranted and undeserved long-term mental or physical torture. We certainly are to believe—even in those circumstances—that God is sovereign and good.
But in order to keep on believing such truths, we need to dig beneath the surface (superficial) answers that the likes of Elihu give in their youthful inexperienced zeal, and as we dig, we find (as Job eventually did) answers behind the answer that are indeed satisfying. Or, in Job’s case—as we shall see when we come to the end of the book—he did not find an answer, but rather a person. A person before whom all answers pale into insignificance as we bow in the sacrifice of stunning and cruciform worship.
Perhaps you are suffering. Perhaps you are fed up with superficial (Elihu-like) answers. Be encouraged by the Book of Job. God will not patronize with easy solutions to complicated, painful problems. Instead look to him, dig deep, and find in him the satisfaction that only he can give.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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