“Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!” Job 38:3-5
The other day, our little granddaughter had a very trying start to her day; her sad little voice over the video clip said it all: “I’m upthet.” When asked why, she wailed mournfully, “Because my tutus can’t twirl!” It turned out that she had SIX tutus on, and, when she spun herself around, they weren’t twirling out as in the image she had in her mind as she awoke; and no sound logic from her parents comforted her.
What was a very real problem to a little ballerina was a storm in a teacup by any standards, and hardly comparable to the traumatic suffering Job experienced.
In a short space of time, the upright and God-fearing Job lost his possessions, his wealth, his ten children, and then his health, experiencing indescribable suffering; and, like so many today, he couldn’t understand what he’d done to deserve it. He’d lived a righteous life and God was silent at a time he needed Him to answer his questions. In his overwhelming need to understand his suffering he wants to “state his case before him and fill [his] mouth with arguments … find out what he would answer [him] and consider what he would say.” (Job 23:4-5)
Job’s shocked friends came and sat in silence with him for seven days, then gave him their opinions, and lots of advice, all of which made little sense to him in his circumstances, which was as comforting as his wife’s scoffing advice, “Are you still holding onto your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9)
Each of Job’s ‘supporters’ worsened his suffering as they failed to understand his position and give him comfort that God’s grace prevails; suffering helps us to get closer to God and to trust Him for who He is in all circumstances.
But, in His perfect timing, God arrived. He didn’t answer Job’s questions about his personal suffering, but helped him to see a new perspective. Starting with today’s verse, God asked him seventy-seven rhetorical questions – questions neither Job, nor anyone else would be able to answer, yet the impact helped Job to understand his situation. If Job didn’t understand the workings of nature and animals, how could he understand God’s sovereignty?
Job understood. He chose not to interrogate God, but humbled himself before Him, and said, “I am unworthy - how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth … I know you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 40:4; 42:1)
God then restored Job’s fortunes and “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” (Job 42:12)
Do we know where we were when God laid the earth’s foundation? Do we trust Him for who He is and not for what He does?
Prayer: Loving Father, we may not understand everything about You, but we know that Your grace and mercy are rich and free. You know my suffering; You “know the way that I take; when [You have] tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) Hallelujah! Amen