How often have you wondered “God, where are you?” or maybe even “God, what did I do to deserve this?” I know there have been times of suffering in my life where I’ve found myself asking similar questions. As much as we want a clear answer from God in tumultuous times, often He asks us to trust His character through the questioning, rather than just giving us clear answers wrapped up in pretty red bows.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been reading through the Bible on a yearly plan. Last year I did it chronologically and this year I am doing it according to the order of the Tanakh (if you don’t know what that means, I encourage you to Google it!) Right now, I’m reading through Job, and while I won’t even try to tackle in this small post the questions of suffering, pain, and evil in the world, I will try to unpack a few statements Job makes that I really believe could help us reframe how we think during these times.
In chapter 26, Job is replying to Bildad the Shuhite, and by this point Job has really been run through the ringer. All of his “friends” have been trying to figure out what sort of sin he must have been caught up in for God to be allowing such horrible things to happen to him. However, we know that Job really is innocent because God himself has declared Job a “blameless and upright” man, one who “fears God and shuns evil” in chapter 1.
Job sarcastically tells Bildad what a great friend he is and then takes the focus off of man’s wisdom by speaking about the great power of God. He speaks of how everything is laid bare before God,how nothing can hide from him, not even the dead. He states that God spreads out the sky over nothing, implying that you have to “spread out” something over something else but that God’s power can spread something over NOTHING (wow, just think about that!) He speaks of God’s power over the clouds and rain, the ocean, the mountains, and His ability to calm seas and clear the skies.
Job ends this rebuttal of sorts by declaring in verse 14 “And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” I think what Job is getting at here is that if all the power encompassed in his prior statements is but a “whisper” of who God is, how much greater is God in his fullness, in his “thunder.” I think we can all agree that a whisper and thunder are on the opposite spectrum of noise levels. If God’s whispers absolutely amaze us and even perplex us, how much more should his thunder put us in awe? If we can’t understand the complexities of his whispers as humans, then why would we believe that we could understand his thunder? God’s perspective of the universe is one that we just don’t have the capacity to understand.
These questions leave me in the same place that I believe Job was in. They leave me in awe… they leave me in wonder… they leave me in complete and utter humility. I find myself repeating David’s words “what is man that you are mindful of him?” And in the moments of the overwhelming questions of “why, how, and how much longer?” I can find peace and rest knowing that the same God who holds the universe also holds me. And while for now, I can only understand his whispers, I know that one day I will finally understand his thunder and I know all will be made right