Greetings all, here is your e-votional for the week…
“Then Job answered:
‘Indeed I know that this is so; but how can a mortal be just before God?
If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand.
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength—who has resisted him, and succeeded?—
he who removes mountains, and they do not know it, when he overturns them in his anger;
who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble; who commands the sun, and it does not rise;
who seals up the stars; who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the Sea;
who made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south;
who does great things beyond understanding, and marvelous things without number.
Look, he passes by me, and I do not see him; he moves on, but I do not perceive him.
He snatches away; who can stop him? Who will say to him, “What are you doing?”
-Job 9: 1-12
Poor Job. His life had come crashing down around him. His wealth was lost. His family was dead. His health had failed. He sat on a pile of ashes, scratching his sores with potshards as his “friends” attempted to rationalize his sorrows. That never works. There is no way to make sense of sorrow. Everything that is said during hard times is reduced to cliché and platitude, rendering little solace to the thoughtful mind. Still at least Job’s friends were trying to help him, as opposed to his wife who offered this counsel, “curse God and die.” Surely she would be a barrel of laughs at a funeral visitation.
And so Job is left to wrestle with the “after.” The “after” is the worst part, isn’t it? The event is over. The tragedy has come and gone and now there is just a reality that must, in some way, be worked out. Job does his best. And his best is not too bad. Job resists the clichés of his friends and instead finds whatever solace he can in the otherness of God. God is not to be understood, he argues. God is all powerful, he reasons. God commands the stars and the sun and the foundations of the earth; who am I to question such a being, he asks? And then he concludes, “Look, he passes by me, and I do not see him; he moves on, but I do not perceive him.”
We live in a world full of questions. Why is Aleppo happening? Where is justice in our midst? What sort of world are we leaving our children? These are good questions. They are fair questions, and if we were to encounter God face to face today, we might wish to pose them. But sometimes our best posture in the face of such struggles is simply to take a moment and acknowledge this reality: God’s works are often a mystery.
Does God work in this world? I believe so. Does God have a plan? My faith says yes. But am I privy to all of God’s deliberations or mechanizations? No, I am not. Do I have a full understanding of who God is and what God is doing in the world? Alas, this has not been given to me. It is not the worst idea in the world, when faced with questions rooted in tragedy, to use Job’s words. It is not the worst idea to acknowledge that there are times when we cannot see God’s presence or God’s work in a situation, but we know God is there.
Answers often fatigue me at this stage of life. My experiences have left me perplexed. And so I find that I am consoled by Job’s realism; by his perception of his own finitude in the face of the infinite. You and I are mortal; we will lead our lives and then we will be gone. God was, and is, and always shall be. This is truth. And for today, it is enough.
Prayer: Holy God, thank you for loving me and caring about me. Thank you for creating this world and entrusting me with it for this season. Help me today to be comfortable in the face of your mystery. Help me to embrace your majesty in the face of my limitations. Help me to recognize my ignorance in the face of your omniscience. Comfort me as you have comforted my ancestors, and strengthen me as you have strengthened my forebears. I offer this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.