Then Job replied to the LORD:
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job is one of those books in which the depth of the Bible is apparent. Really from the beginning with the climax at the end. In between we have Job’s complaints, and testy exchanges between he and his friends. It has often been said the theme of Job is why the righteous suffer, but that really doesn’t ring true since no answer is given. The book seems more to do with humility given God’s revelation, what theologians call both general and special.
When God at last breaks in God talks much about creation. Things observable in themselves, which elicit wonder and awe. Deb and I have been watching documentaries on planets within our solar system, and recent discoveries from our space probes. And it is remarkable.
God makes the point that if Job can’t really begin to understand God’s works in creation, then how can he imagine that he has God figured out when it comes to any of his works. Yes, in Job’s life. Job went through what we could liken to a terrible storm, even nightmare, and was in the midst of that during his complaining to God and his friends, and arguing back and forth was awakening and stirring Job’s faith. Wrestling with doubt is a good thing; simply casting it aside for easy answers is not. In scripture faith is likened to a mustard seed, which can grow and be strengthened, or be neglected and even die. And faith is strengthened through the storms of real life, not in theory on paper.
Job’s response quoted above is instructive to us. It is not just about his lack in knowing, but his need to get not just a sense of God, but receive the revelation of God into his life. In so doing, he responded with dust and ashes, saying that he needed to say no more, indeed that his words had been bereft of the knowing now given to him.
Job was surely never the same. He had some measure of this before, but going through the trial of losing family than his health (and wealth) he had come to the place where he could possibly receive much more. And he did in a way that opened his eyes like never before.
So through the troubles and crucible of life, let’s learn from this story, looking for God in the midst of it all, trusting in God even when life makes little or no sense to us. In and through Jesus.