Job’s children were all murdered. Job’s wealth literally went up in flames. Job had boils. Job’s wife told him to curse God and die. I really have no right to identify with Job, but I do.
When I consider the past 4 years, I am nowhere near where I thought I might be. In some ways, life is so much more beautiful than I anticipated. In other ways, questions I thought would be answered by now are still questions. At one point, I did lose my health, my job, and my home. Unlike Job, some of this was my failure. Today, I am healthy, working, and settled. My loss is fuzzy in the rear view mirror, but it still smarts at times. What I struggle with is not the devastation of Job’s life. I struggle with the last chapter of Job, where God restores everything He had taken away.
How could He utterly devastate then restore without explanation? I realize that demanding answers from God is audacious, but after almost 3 years the question still lingers. I am better off than I was, but what about the ruins? What about the friends I lost? What about my disappointing failure?
God owes me no explanation. I anticipate no explanation.
The book of Job tells us that God doubly restored what Job had lost. His brothers and sisters came to comfort Job after everything is restored. He has more children. But what about his other children? What about the pain he experienced? What about his loss? Why?
God offers no explanation to Job, though Job is blameless. The wrong He corrects is that of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. This correction is telling. God orders them to make offerings before Job “because you have not spoken of Me what is right” (Job 42:8). God does not rebuke them for saying harsh things to Job. He does not enter the conversation to defend Himself. He rebukes them for wronging Job by speaking incorrectly of Himself. He enters the conversation to both rebuke and defend Job.
Oddly, this is where I find my peace.
I often fear I am only a pawn to God. Certainly He has the right to devastate me. I am a creation of the Creator, but why create me in the first place if only to devastate me? To prove a point? For the greater good? I am a finite creature. I cannot see the big picture. God is not required to care about me and the trivial details of my speck of a life. But the details of my life, though minute on a grand scale, are important to me. How do I process that?
God addresses the misrepresentation of His character as the ultimate wrong to Job. For when Job’s friends spoke ill of God’s intention for his devastation, when they accused innocent Job of wrongdoing, when they claimed to be righteous in their pristine circumstances, God’s poignant answer was a question, “Who are you?” God speaks for only three chapters, compared to the inordinate amount of hot air Job’s friends blew. Yet His response is silencing.
I do not know what God’s plan is for me. I do not know if more pain awaits me. I do not know why. But if the ultimate wrong to Job was not the devastation of his circumstances but the maligning of God’s character, if Job finds peace and happiness without answers by God’s provision, then I must seek to know who He is.
I am comforted by the book that follows Job, the book of Psalms. What a contrast to such a terrifying God. David is very obviously close to his Creator. He speaks to Him as though He were intimately involved with David’s every step and thought. I found such comfort yesterday when I read Psalm 4:3. It says He heard when David called to Him. This is God’s character. This is why I can claim this for myself. Though this life is not about me, God’s Word was not written specifically for me, and my concerns are relatively minute, it is in His character to hear when His children call to Him.
I claim not promises that are not for me. I close my eyes not to life’s very real devastation. I seek not comforting lies about my God, that when my life is devastated, I find peace despite the devastation because of His character and the truth that He is, in fact, a personal God.