Job 38:1-21: Amazement and Worship
December 19, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
And now finally, with great relief, we come to the Word of the Lord. What is the answer to the problem of suffering? What is the answer to all the problems and questions that Job, in his suffering, has thrown in the air and asked of his friends, of the world around, and of God? Where can we find an answer to human pain, degradation, viciousness, and mindless, apparently pointless evil? What do you say when someone suffers as Job suffers? Where does Job find his answer? What is the answer?
Throughout God’s reply to Job, we find that the answer is not so much a “what” as a “who.” Job looks for an answer, and instead he finds a Person. Or rather the Answer is the Person. He looks for solutions to age-old conundrums, for riddles solved and problems resolved, and instead of finding such rationally satisfying explanation, he finds a Person; he has an encounter, The Answer not merely an answer.
The description of the beginning of this astonishing experience of Job is evocative of the whole:
“Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm” (38:1).
And thus it so often is. It is out of the storm that God speaks to Job: the storm of suffering, the storm of pain, the storm of confusion and conflict. Are you “in a storm”? Can you ask God to speak to you even out of the storm? Would you turn to his word to hear his voice? That voice of Jesus that at a simple rebuke stilled the storm on the Lake of Galilee.
Job has been asking God questions. But now he must answer God’s questions!
“Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (38:2).
And what questions they are!
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?” (38:4-5).
On and on, the questions making it clear that God has knowledge of which Job cannot even dream, let alone comprehend. God’s understanding is so beyond Job’s that to attempt to answer the problems that only God answers is the height of foolishness. It is well said that he who attempts to contain God within his own mind will become an atheist. That does not mean that God runs in contradiction to our logic; it means that the Logos of God’s Word points over the horizon of our minds to land in the infinite of the Eternal. God is, and there is no other.
“Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.” (38:18).
God is not being cruel to ask Job such penetrating—and humbling—questions. He is bringing Job to the place that he needs to be. To worship. To praise. To look up to God in his suffering, not down at God in bitterness and anger and unrequited emotional and spiritual disturbance.
Things happen to us that we cannot explain. We know that God has a purpose. That does not necessarily mean that we can discern what that purpose is. But then, does a child discern the purpose of his parents when they are driving long on a holiday vacation and the journey seems endless as they wonder, “Are we there yet?” A child does not understand the importance of not crossing a road when there are cars coming, and so sometimes must be grabbed back from being hit by an oncoming vehicle. That grabbing back can be painful, and a toddler will not understand that pain. What we go through in this life is at times far, far worse than these simple illustrations. But if a young child cannot hope to be able to understand all that his father understands, and so must trust him even at times when the father is doing something that does not make sense, how much more must that be the case for us with our God. If a house is on fire, the father may grab his child and take him out of his bed and into the cold night air leaving all his toys and possessions to burn to cinder. The child will not understand the loss, but there is a purpose behind it which would make sense if he could understand.
If you are struggling with accepting that what God is doing in your life is good, then let God speak to you out of the storm. Accept that not just what God knows is best, but who God is in himself is so much above your own comprehension that the only right response is amazement—and worship.
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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