Sunday, April 23, 2017

When Bad Things Happen To Good People: A Study Of The Book Of Job. Day 49, The Lord Asks Job If He Understands Creation

The Lord is asking the questions now and He displays His infinite intelligence by describing His works of creation.

"Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken." (Job 38:12-15) The Lord points out that He sets a limit to everything. Every night must end. The wicked who do dark deeds during the night are brought to a halt by the arrival of morning. By the same rule, Job's trial will also have an ending point. Things are not out of control; the God who keeps the universe in order has Job's life under control. The dark night of his suffering won't last forever.

"Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this." (Job 38:16-18) Job, like all of us, sees such a small portion of God's work. There are depths in the seas and creatures living there that no eye but God's has ever seen. There are strange and wonderful aspects of the universe that even the most brilliant physicist can't understand. Yet Job has questioned God as if they are equals. He has demanded answers from God as if God is a man like him. You may recall the other day we talked about the dangers of thinking God is like us, of losing our awe and reverence for Him. In his pain and doubt, Job tried to bring God down to his level, but God can't be brought down to man's level. He can't be made to be like us. He can only extend the offer to lift us up to a higher level, to make us more like Him.

"What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!" (Job 38:19-21) The Lord asks, "Do you know where I store the light during the night? Do you know where the darkness sleeps while the day shines forth? Do you have any idea how I control all these things, day after day and night after night? Surely you do! You are so ancient! Surely you remember how I created these things!" Job possesses the wisdom of an elder in the community, of a godly man, but this is nothing in comparison to God's knowledge. Job's methods of reasoning are nothing like the Lord's because he is unable to see events from the Lord's perspective. As God said in the book of Isaiah, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways." (Isaiah 55:8)

"Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen?" (Job 38:22-30) In my background study I found a commentary on Job by a lady named Kathryn M. Shifferdecker and she makes the statement that God is saying all these things to remind Job he isn't the center of the universe. In Job's mind, everything revolves around mankind. But God says here that He waters the deserts where no man lives. He makes grass to sprout where no person will ever see it. He makes sea creatures no human will ever lay eyes on. While it's true that the universe and the earth are especially engineered to support life, and human life in particular, the creation does not revolve around man. It revolves around the God who created it and who holds it in place. Ms. Shifferdecker sums up God's speech beautifully, "Is this an adequate response to Job's suffering? It is not, in a conventional sense, very comforting. God would probably fail a present-day pastoral care class. Nonetheless, these speeches of God at the end of the book of Job accomplish something profound. They move Job out of his endless cycle of grief into life again. They enable him to live freely in a world full of heartbreaking suffering and heart-stopping beauty, and to do so in a way that reflects God's own care for the world."

"Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion's belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God's dominion over the earth?" (Job 38:31-33) The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that the Creator sustains all things (holds all things together) "by His powerful word". (Hebrews 1:3) When the Lord spoke into the darkness, "Let there be light," everything came into being. He set the stars in place and told the planets what their orbits were to be, and they are still obeying His word, doing exactly what they were commanded to do. Can Job even begin to do such a thing? Is anything truly within his control? Is anything truly within anyone's control?

I used to be a real control freak. My life was ruled by all sorts of obsessions and rigid behaviors. Everything had to be done in a particular way (my way) and it had to be done on schedule. Woe to anyone in the household who didn't fall in line with my compulsive ways. On top of these unhealthy behaviors, I was in danger of destroying my health with anorexia because my weight and appearance was something I thought I could control in a world that felt like it was out of control. I denied anything was wrong with me, refusing to admit that it wasn't normal for a woman as tall as I am to weigh less than a hundred pounds. I was destroying my life and making myself and my marriage miserable. Eventually the Lord had to step in and take action. I went through an exceedingly painful time in my life. I had to accept that I wasn't in control of anything. I had to face the fact that my obsessive behaviors weren't preventing anything bad from happening; bad things happened to me anyway. I had to learn to live and even thrive in a world that often feels like it's out of control. By methodically pulling one rug after another out from under my feet, the Lord showed me that all my methods of controlling my life were nothing but illusions. He was my security. He was the bedrock at the bottom of everything. The world did not revolve around me and I was not the one holding it together. It was a long and hurtful lesson but those are the lessons we don't forget. Like Job, I learned to live freely in a world of heartbreaking suffering and heart-stopping beauty, trusting that even when things seem out of control, the God who set the stars in the sky is holding everything holding me together.

God's speech is intended to bring Job out of his obsessions about himself and his situation. It reminds him there is Someone bigger than he is. It tells him there is a higher purpose to the things that happen in this world. Job, in his misery, has been unable to think about anyone or anything but himself. God calls him to step up his faith, to expand his mind, to acknowledge that God is so much bigger and so much more intelligent than he ever imagined. It's as if God is saying, "Think about something other than yourself, Job. Climb out of this pit of despair and breathe in the fresh air again. Enjoy the beauty of the creation. Cherish your life on earth, not because it isn't fragile and fleeting, but because it is. Embrace the uncertainty. Let go of your desire to be in control of everything. I am your security. I am in control of all things; you don't have to be."

No comments:

Post a Comment