“Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind: Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.” Job 38:1-3
Job was a man who found himself thrust suddenly and forcefully into a storm of catastrophic proportions. His livestock, fields, servants and children were all destroyed in one day. Still reeling from the grief, shock and bewilderment, Job himself was struck from head to toe with painful boils. In the midst of the turmoil, his wife urged him to curse God and die. Job wisely shunned this counsel, but he did wonder what God was up to. He’d lived a holy and righteous life – not even his friends’ stinging accusations could shake his conviction about that. So, why would God allow all this to happen? Where was He?
Unlike with Elijah, God was very much in the storms that rocked Job’s world. And when Job cried out for answers, requesting an audience with God to plead his case (Job 13:3, 15b), God responded from the midst of a whirlwind. Only instead of providing answers, God had questions of His own. Where was Job when God laid the foundations of the earth, or set boundaries for the sea? Was it by Job’s wisdom that the rules of heavenly precipitation and all life itself were established? Could he tame the fiercest creatures while tenderly caring for the weak? And would Job discredit God’s justice, condemning Him to prove himself right?
Job’s reaction to this interrogation is one of my favorites in the entire Bible. Thoroughly cowed, he replies, “Listen, please and let me speak…I [had] heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees you. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Even without firm answers, Job’s glimpse of God was enough.
A wise man (my Pastor) once said, ‘Conflict is never about what’s happening on the surface – there’s always much more at stake.’ Substitute the word ‘conflict’ with ‘storm,’ and you have a portrait of Job. Although he never knew it, Job was caught up in a fierce battle for his soul. The tragedy which befell was just a pretext for him to ‘curse God and die.’ Had he yielded to that temptation, his ending would have been very different indeed.
We have the benefit of Job’s full story, but like him, we rarely do when it comes to our own individual storms. And when we’re faced with a paradox of perplexing and unfair circumstances, there is a strong temptation to discredit God’s justice. But we must pray for the grace to resist that urge and choose to trust God by fixing our eyes on Him. Only God knows the full story every single time – and even from within the storm, He’s working out each chapter into a beautiful manuscript for our good and His glory.