I’m way behind in my studies, so I woke up at six this morning before church to get some work done and catch up. Instead, I ended up reading several chapters of Job. I sat with my coffee for about an hour with the Lord, reading about Job–confused, broken, and ruined Job. This morning, I was feeling a little confused myself. If you scroll to some of my recent posts you’ll see what’s been on my mind–I’ve written about debt, my doubts, and the church’s failures.
Needless to say, reading Job sounded better than choking down more pharmacology. The passage was about men mining into the “gloom and deep darkness” of the earth, scraping the flinty rock, making slow progress, and perhaps emerging from a shaft with a few grains of gold, but with no wisdom and no answers to Job’s burning questions. I stopped when I had to leave for church, about midway through chapter 28, with man groping in the dark.
We went to church, then came home for a quick lunch, and I left to go climbing with some friends. When I got home and showered, I again sat down to study, but I got distracted and read the rest of Job, with his timeless and disturbing questions.
Why do the evil prosper?
Why do people suffer?
Why is God so distant?
The questions are phrased in poetry that somehow sounds beautiful even in modern English. Eventually God speaks, but without answering any of Job’s questions.
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements–surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?'” (Job 38:1-4)
God overwhelms him, answering Job with more questions, almost as if to say, “Why are you confused about this? There are so many other questions you also don’t understand.” Over the pages at the end of the book, the Lord dazzles Job out of his confusion, and Job can only answer God with silence:
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
twice, but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:3-5)
By the time I finished Job, it was time to visit friends again, and my wife and I had a wonderful time with them. My books sat stacked on my desk–I still haven’t even cracked them open yet. I don’t usually have so much trouble focusing, but today I couldn’t get away from Job. I’m quite sure God was overwhelming me also. My confusion faded away, because who can understand God? If God is real, shouldn’t he be complicated, and even confusing at times? If I ever think I understand God perfectly, I hope I’ll have enough sense to realize that I must be making some terrible mistake in reasoning. God is confusing because he’s real. There will always be some unanswered questions. “Behold, I am of small account.”