Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Living with questions

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Job 37:1-24

"God thunders marvelously with His voice;
He does great things which we cannot comprehend." Job 37:5

After Job's three elderly friends are done speaking, a younger man, Elihu, joins the conversation (Job 32-37). Our reading today is the end of Elihu's final speech. His argument (quoting from my Bible's Introduction to Job) is:

"... God is greater than any human being; therefore a person has no right or authority to require an explanation of Him. He argues that some things that God does are humanly incomprehensible. At the same time, Elihu suggests that God will speak if we will listen. His emphasis is on the attitude of the sufferer, that is, an attitude of humility allows God to intervene .... Elihu's appeal to Job is: 1] to have faith in God Himself rather than demand an explanation; 2] to change his attitude to one of humility" Charles E. Blair, Introduction to Job, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 645.

In our reading, Elihu refers to the mysteries of nature—the grandeur of thunder and lightning, the cycling of rain and snow, the capriciousness of clouds, the instinctive wisdom of animals in response to seasonal changes.

What strikes me about several of these speeches is how closely Job and his friends observe nature and the seasons. They attribute its enigmas and splendours to the mind and intention of God. In today's chapter Elihu describes them in glowing terms: "thunders marvelously .... great things .... wondrous works of God .... awesome majesty .... He is excellent in power."

So much of what they say still expresses our awe of these things.

But what about when nature does more than put on a show for us while we're watching from the safety of our homes? Because when hurricanes and tornadoes bring devastation and floods, when lightning sparks wildfires burning homes along with vast tracts of forest or grass, when earthquakes destroy communities forever we, along with Elihu, are also puzzled:

"He does great things which we cannot comprehend...

"He causes it to come
Whether for correction
Or for His land
Or for mercy
" - Job 37:5,13.

Are there any answers to the theological and existential questions Job and his friends have been grappling with? Our consecutive readings in Job end here, but the Bible account continues with God's reply to Job (and his four friends) in Job 38:1-41:34. It's an answer well worth reading for our own lives.

PRAYER: Dear God, I find it uncomfortable to live with questions. Help me to wait for Your answers and to recognize them when they come. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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