Have you ever gone through something and you didn't trust God with it? Or have you ever faced something really hard and came out of it trusting God more? How do we face really painful things in life without blaming God?
Job had a bone to pick with God. He loved the Lord and served Him only. But what reward did he get for that? His life has fallen apart. He wanted God to answer him. He wanted a hearing to prove to God that he deserved better.
In Job 13, he protested, "I desire to argue with God."
Job 10:2 I will say to God, "Do not condemn me; let me know why You contend with me. 3 Is it right for You to oppress me?..."
You're wrong to do this! C'mon, what have I done to tick you off with me?!
God must answer him. Millions of people, sometimes you or I might do this with God. Job feels God has wronged him in the way He's treated Job.
Job 19:6 Know then that God has wronged me… 7 I shout for help, but there is no justice… 9 He has stripped my honor from me… 11 He has also kindled His anger against me and considered me as His enemy.
"I love the LORD yet he treats me so poorly, and this isn't right." This is inherent in the human race. We believe God must treat us as we deserve. And I deserve better!
Rather than choosing humility, Job justifies himself before God. He lists off his good deeds,
Job 29:12... I delivered the poor who cried, and the orphan who had no helper… 15 I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame. 16 I was a father to the needy, and I championed the cause of the stranger.
Granted, his claims were partly from self-righteous pride.
But things like championing the cause of the stranger, being a father to the needy, and helping those who had no help, were real expressions of Job's love for God. God delights in these. When done as an act of faith in God's grace, these honor God.
This is that pure and undefiled religion that God delights in.
Particularly in light of the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake which must feel like another hateful shot in the back of so many black men and women. Our Lord is a God of mercy and justice who works above and beyond Satan's evils and men's sins and fears.
Job's mercy attracted God and Satan' attention to him! But Job used his good works to prove God wrong for allowing him to suffer. Even sadder, Job actually thought God had treated him "as an enemy" for allowing Satan to assail him. All of which reveals a poor understanding of God's grace.
Remember the LORD is proud of Job (1:8). He picked Job! and rested the greatness of His Name on Job's love for Him, no matter what Satan did, even if God doesn't appear loving…
Job 1:8 The LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil."
God justifies Job. He is righteous. He trusts my love.
But suffering caused Job to lose sight of God's grace.
Our hearts are fickle. While God has forever proven His love on the cross, Satan uses suffering to cause us to question God's love.
When crisis disrupts life and peace, like Job we can want answers. Job loves the Lord, but He wants to put God on trial. He demands a meeting with God.
In chapter 38, he gets his meeting but it didn't go as he expected. Instead of God contritely answering Job's questions and issuing an apology, an ominous storm appears and the LORD God demands that Job answer His questions.
Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, 2 "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me!"
Job spoke as if God was in the wrong, He's unjust, He treats me as His enemy. But Job speaks without knowledge; he doesn't have a clue.
It's fine to ask questions, fine to wage complaints, but not to judge God as if He doesn't love you or know what He's doing or that He is evil or unjust or ignorant. This casts a shadow on His wisdom, muddies the truth of His love and glory.
"Job, you have done all these good deeds. You blow me away. I'm so proud of you. And I've blessed you. But I love you regardless. And Job I am free to love you as I choose. I love you but I am not indebted to you for your good works; and I will work for your good in ways you may not understand…
In fact, there are so many things that you don't understand!
Now get up and brace yourself like a man, and God launches into His own set of seventy rapid fire questions, none of which Job has an answer for.
Job 38:4 "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. 5 Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? 6 On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God [when all the angels] shouted for joy?"
God is not trying to show Job up nor to shut him up; but He gives Job a brief glimpse into the awesome reality of God in his role as Creator.
YHWH is older than we can count. And infinitely bigger than we can fathom. Infinitely creative and genius, capable of unparalleled beauty, complexity, even life itself.
A brief flash of his power, a fire, a lightning storm frightens us.
The further out our space probes explore, the deeper under water we go, the further we break down atoms and quarks, the more we discover, the more we discover we don't know and the more in awe of God the humble becomes.
Job 38:8 "Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb [God likens forming the earth to building a great house and filling the oceans with water to childbirth]; 9 when I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 and I placed boundaries [shorelines] on it and set a bolt and doors, 11 and I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop'?"
Not only does our LORD reveal His greatness and His understanding of everything, but God reveals our limited knowledge and understanding…
We think as if the world revolves around us. We tend to think we know everything, and everything fits as we say. Science. Experience. Smarts. But God uses surprising pain to tell us, you know so little.
Our proud and curious sense of "knowing" comforts us. Knowing why something happens, let's us feel we're in control. But trusting ourselves for control, when things fly out of control, when our world falls apart we fear. We panic. We blame. We lose peace and joy.
By humbling us with the truth of our limitations, often through challenging times, God actually seeks to comfort us. For in our hurt and fear, He has full control over things we cannot control. He places boundaries on oceans and waves and the storms that overwhelm us. Nothing is outside of His control.
Just as He set boundaries on the seas, He has set boundaries on Satan and the sin that people can do. He has set boundaries on COVID, Trump, the democrats, police, rioters, global warming, cancer, and whatever else threatens or frightens us. This far, but no farther! It is all under His control.
He humbles you in order to remove all doubt, and to assure you that the LORD cares, and He protects you, and He is with you; He watches over you even as adversity seeks to cripple you.
Job 38:16 "Have you entered into the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?"
Thank God for shows like Blue Planet and Planet Earth and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom back in the day! Shows like this, organizations like ICR and Back to Genesis, observing nature, science rightly interpreted give us an awe of God. Job shows as much as we know so much remains mysterious.
Job 38:17 "Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?"
Then God asks Job to explain how He created the sun and stars and the constellations. There are 100 billion galaxies each comprised of 100s of billions or stars. Certainly you too can make all of these! Certainly you have power over these. And the wisdom to control their patterns, their light. Certainly you have in depth knowledge and understanding of these, right?
Job 38:19 "Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And darkness, where is its place, 20 that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? 21 You know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!"
Earlier God said Job cast a shadow on His counsel by speaking of things he had no clue, things he did not see because he wasn't there! This is God's point.
"I was there," God says. "I am eternal. I tell you of great things I did with my wisdom and power so that you can let go of control, trust Me and walk free in this world, even in hard times, knowing that I not only love you but I can handle anything you trust Me with."
Yet man in his wisdom says we know how the universe came to be and God did not do this. God says, "Were you there?" No! "Hmm?"
Job 38:36 Who has put wisdom in the innermost being or given understanding to the mind?
The answer to all of these is the YHWH, the LORD our God and Father of our Lord Jesus. God is the One who's given man the ability to reason. He's given you some understanding. He's given you some of His wisdom. So how foolish of us to not trust Him with all things or to say we know more than He.
You might think in his suffering Job needs to hear of God's more intimate qualities, show us Your tender mercy, Your deep affections. But God highlights His transcendent qualities, the greatness of His wisdom, power, and authority over the cosmos.
In doing so, God reveals the deficiency of our knowledge and control. He does this so that trusting the LORD's greatness we draw close, we walk with Him rather than push Him away as Satan wishes us to do.
So in His self-giving love, God reveals His towering glory that through heartache and pain we can be confident that this infinitely wise God who has both hands on the wheel loves you and works through the hardest things in the life and not the devil nor the pandemic nor nature nor sinful people nor even your own sinful choices can thwart or hinder God's eternal, loving purposes for you.