Job is a man in agony, and he’s been pelting God with questions because of it. He wants to know—as would anyone—how the Lord could allow him to suffer for no apparent reason. Like a lawyer shooting out questions in rapid-fire succession, Job lets God have it. Throughout the interrogation, God remains silent. He doesn’t say a single word, but that is about to change. For 30+ chapters, Job has questioned God, but now God will question him. It’s Job’s turn to be quiet. Really, it’s Job’s turn to be put on trial.
“Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: ‘Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand’” (Job 38:1-4). Thus begins what some critics have called “the grand failure.” God misses an opportunity here to explain himself. He simply pulls rank on poor Job, sort of like a drill sergeant flexing his muscles and barking orders at his soldiers just because he can. “Drop and give me twenty, Job.” O.k., God is all powerful, but how is that helpful? How is that an answer? And why does this power play—if that’s all it is—lead to such a dramatic response of humility and repentance by Job after God is done speaking to him (cf. Job 42:6)?
As it turns out, God’s response to Job is much more than a power play. Indeed, divine power is only part of the response. Quite significantly, Job’s encounter with God is uniquely personal to him. It’s also supremely gracious, as this message seeks to show. God takes Job on a whirlwind tour of the cosmos, which leaves him overwhelmed in more ways than one. The divine strategy is clear: The God of nature reveals the nature of God. This nature is critical for all of us to know and experience when we ourselves are suffering. For example:
God shows himself to be infinitely powerful. When we are suffering, we need to know that God is still in charge of the universe.
God shows himself to be infinitely perceptive. When we are suffering, we need to know that God still has a good purpose for us.
God shows himself to be infinitely playful. When we are suffering, we need to know that God is still delighted with his creation.
God shows himself to be infinitely parental. When we are suffering, we need to know that God still cares about us personally.
What Job wanted all along was a demonstration of God’s goodness, and that’s exactly what he gets. God unveils to Job his divine strength, wisdom, joy, and love. He gives Job a cosmic answer to earthly pain, and he accepts it. As such, God’s response here is not a “grand failure” at all. It’s the “grand finale.” Job learns what all of us can learn in times of pain and suffering: The answer to life’s hardest questions is God himself.
In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth has despised Mr. Darcy for most of the book. He appears to be distant and aloof. He appears to be cold and unfeeling. He appears to be pompous and proud. But when Mr. Darcy finally reveals himself—in all of his charity, love, and good deeds—Elizabeth is melted by love. When God reveals himself to Job, a similar thing happens. He is melted by love, and he is supremely satisfied by that love. We can be, too.
Contact This New Life directly for the sermon audio file.