Job was another man of faith who had a lot of questions for God, questions he thought deserved answers. And God eventually answered him, just not like Job expected. He answered by asking Job some questions of his own:
Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? . . . What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? (Job 38:4, 19)
And forty more questions like these. In other words, “Job, are you and I really on level playing fields? I tell you what, Job. Let’s meet for coffee to discuss your objections to my methods. You bring your universe and I’ll bring mine, and we’ll compare. . . . Oh, what’s that? You don’t have a universe? Then maybe you’re not in a place to judge how I rule mine.”
Imagine a seven-year-old on a field trip visiting Cape Canaveral to observe a rocket launch. And the child begins lecturing the rocket scientist about why the rocket won’t fly: “That rocket is too heavy. It’s the wrong shape. It needs wings.” The scientist might try to explain to him why he is wrong, but it’s unlikely that the child will understand. Instead, the scientist might simply say, “Um, no, son. Sit back and watch.” The scientist’s ability to do invalidates the challenge from the child. That’s essentially how God answers Job.
God’s answer to Job’s queries is not really an answer; it’s a display. “Job, if you can’t even understand the natural world, can you really expect to understand the purposes of the eternal God above it?”
Ironically, we who read the book of Job know even more than Job understood about the reasons for his suffering! At the beginning of the book the narrator explained that one of God’s primary purposes in Job’s suffering was to prove to the angels that God was worthy of being worshiped for himself apart from any of his good gifts (Job 1–2). Job’s suffering was a display for the angels. But God doesn’t tell Job this. He simply answers Job by showing Job how big he is.
Sometimes that is all he gives us too.
I am not saying that we can never hope to understand the reason for some of our suffering. Just as there was a reason for Job’s suffering, there is a reason for ours, and sometimes God shows us what that is. Nor am I saying that there is no place for questioning God. Psalms is filled with people who do just that, sometimes with disturbing honesty. So yes, ask God your questions. But as you do so, do it with a proper posture toward the One you are addressing.
God said to Isaiah,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa 55:8–9, ESV)
We know even more now than Isaiah did about how much higher the stars are above us. That’s how much higher God’s wisdom is than ours.
Do we dare flatter ourselves by believing that we could understand everything if God would just take a minute to explain it to us?
Greear, J. D., and David Jeremiah. 2018. Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
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