Five tough questions
So let’s see what else Elihu has to say in chapters 35-37 of the Book of Job.
Elihu: So Job, consider this. How fair is it that you claim to be right (and that God has got it wrong) and yet you ask him this question – What is the point of not sinning if I’m going to suffer like this anyway?
You and your friends, listen to my answer. Contemplate the universe. The enormity of it all. How significant is your sin in the grand scheme of things? What can you realistically add to or take away from the One who created all of that?
When you do wrong, it affects the people around you. When you do good, it affects the people around you.
When people are suffering, they cry out for relief and deliverance. But they don’t think about God the rest of the time. They don’t try to know Him and receive His wisdom –
No one says, “Where is God my Maker,
who gives songs in the night,
who teaches us more than he teaches the beasts of the earth
and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky? Job 35:10-12
God’s not interested in those kind of cries for help. In helping those who do not see Him or know Him. In those who say things about God that do not ring true. Like Job has been doing.
God has revealed His wisdom to me about this. His wisdom I share with you now.
God is mighty, but despises no one;
he is mighty, and firm in his purpose. Job 36:5
But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;
he speaks to them in their affliction.
He is wooing you from the jaws of distress
to a spacious place free from restriction,
to the comfort of your table laden with choice food. Job 36:15-16
You need to be careful, all of you, not to be tempted away when you are weak with suffering. Not to trust in money and wealth to heal you. Not to turn to doing the wrong thing in your desperation. To hold to what is right. To hold to the light.
Reflect on God. Who He is. His incomparable power and wisdom. There has never been or never will be any living being who has come close to Him. No one has ever lived who can challenge Him. Remember to marvel. To wonder at all He has done. Look at creation and be amazed.
How great is our God! Sing with me, how great is our God! And all will see how great, how great is our God!
How great is God – beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out. Job 36:26
Who can understand how He has made all that He has made? How He sustains life and provides water and food for all living things?
Take thunder and lightning for example. The roars and rumblings and flashes of light. (I remember getting caught as a little girl in a thunder storm at the Suffolk Show and my auntie reassuring me it was just God moving his piano around…how we like to explain His mighty acts away in ways we can understand, but these can undermine His might and power if we never fully consider extreme earth…..).
Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice,
to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
and sends it to the ends of the earth.
After that comes the sound of his roar;
he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds,
he holds nothing back.
God’s voice thunders in marvellous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding. Job 37:2-5
(The next section is a great justification for snow days!)
He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth,”
and to the rain shower, “Be a mighty downpour.”
So that everyone he has made may know his work,
he stops all people from their labour. Job 37:6-7
Job. Consider God’s creation. Have you got any idea how He managed it? How He makes it work? Could you begin to explain or do anything like it yourself? Of course not. Never in a million years. So how on earth do you think you can question who He is and what He does?
Think about the sun. You can’t look at it or approach it. It’s too strong in its glorious splendour. God is like that.
Out of the north he comes in golden splendour;
God comes in awesome majesty.
The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;
in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.
Therefore, people revere him,
for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart? Job 37:22-24
Are you still with me? I hope so. This is good stuff, isn’t it? Really good stuff.
So in this long speech, I found five questions that are still asked regularly that I thought I would pick out and leave you with today. Five tough questions.
What is the point of following God if you’re going to end up suffering anyway?
We should not be doing to the right thing just because we are scared of getting caught and punished if we do the wrong thing. That isn’t a good enough motivation. Following God is the right way anyway. If I die and find out it’s all a lie (not that I believe that for one moment, but people do ask me that), this journey will have been the right path anyway. The best way to live is the best way to live. Right here, right now. Best for me. Best for others. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Why do people cry out to God for help when in trouble?
They do, don’t they? There’s something within the human spirit that turns to something outside of themselves in times of desperation. It’s how we were wired. Actually, I think there is something within each one of us that is reaching out to God all of the time. That’s how we were made. To respond to God. But we don’t understand it or call it something different or ignore it or hide it or bury it or get distracted. And then when everything is stripped away by tragedy and suffering, then that urge for God comes to the surface.
So what can God do for me?
Well, let’s be clear. God is God. He can do anything. But I’m not promising anything. All I can know for certain is that He will be there. He’s promised that and He is faithful. He can and will make a difference. ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ He speaks into our suffering. ‘He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction.’ I love that idea. It speaks to me that mentally, He can transport us from distress to freedom – a spacious place. Whatever that place is for you, He can help you get there.
So how am I supposed to get through this?
Stop resisting and fighting against God and trying to understand. Trust and obey. Know God for who He is. What He is. What He has done and can do. Recognise your place in the universe. Don’t become bitter. Don’t be defined by your suffering. Don’t let that be all that you are. Don’t resort to unhealthy behaviours because you are desperate. Lift your eyes to the light. Easy, eh?
How can we see God?
Look around you. End of. It’s that simple. Consider Creation. Really consider Creation. God is there in it all, all of the time. All Creation reflects the glory of the risen Lord. Open your eyes. And ears. All your senses. And prepare to be amazed.