What a moment for Job. After struggling with suffering, agonising over the meaning of the pain that has ravaged his life, the Lord Himself answers his questions – from the whirlwind (Job 38:1). God spoke out of the storm. Perhaps we conceive of conversation with God as a comfortable, cosy, thing. It wasn’t like that for Job. (If your only experience of God is comfortable and easy, then please consider that you might have stopped listening to him.) Job was one-to-one with the whirlwind.
The Voice of God
God can speak during the storm, even out of the storm, in your life. Have you ever been there? How have you felt as a result?
What did God say?
‘Where were you when I founded the earth?’ (Job 38:4)
God asks Job the question that stops all human beings in their tracks; the question that confounds human knowledge and experience. He then proceeds to describe his sovereign role in cosmology (Job 38:4-21), meteorology (Job 38:22-38) and zoology (Job 38:39-39:30). It is a staggering passage, beautiful in its poetry and profound in its theological implications.
Job, in wisdom, has little to say in response:
‘Look, I am worthless. What can I say back to You? My hand I put over my mouth’ (Job 40:4)
Have you ever been silenced by the awesomeness of being one-to-one with God?
Again comes the intensity of the whirlwind (Job 40:6-41:26), buffeting Job with questions that drive home the contrast between God’s all-knowing and all-powerful perspective on the world and our own. It is an important aspect of being 1:1 with God: the privilege of being given his perspective on the world.
Then we get a sense of God’s perspective, we must ask: who are we, before God? All earthly knowledge falls flat when we are one-to-one with the One who is the infinite source of being. Confronted with the fount of immeasurable knowledge and power, Job is left in humility.
‘I know you can do anything…I told but did not understand, wonders beyond me that I did not know (Job 42:2-3)
What about us?
Have you ever been left with these feelings after being one-to-one with God? I hope so. The whirlwind is intense, the storm can batter us – but if God is speaking in that situation, then it is for our good. Let’s make sure we are listening – that will mean spending time in his Word, not just when we are enjoying a spiritual ‘high’, but during the storm as well. If we experience him speaking out of the storm, we will come away with the same sentiment as Job. Wonder at thoughts that are high above our own thoughts, at being shown a perspective that dwarfs our own concerns… I know You can do anything.
Take a look at how Job’s story finishes;
‘The LORD restored Job’s fortunes… and… increased twofold all that Job had… The LORD blessed Job’s latter days more than his former days.’ (Job 42:10-17)
Ultimately, Job teaches us about hope, even (perhaps especially) in the face of suffering. Hope while we are in the storm. God, having demonstrated his sovereignty and infinite power from the whirlwind, picks Job up again, and restores.
That’s how it is with God. We never lose hope because we are in a one-to-one relationship with the One who is sovereign over all things – the animal world, the atmospheric circulation of the earth, the creation and upholding of the universe…everything. And we know that, one day, we will view all of our suffering in the context of eternal joy and glory (Romans 8:18-25).
In the end
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote of ‘everything sad coming untrue’. Perhaps that is not literally how it will be, but I am convinced that, viewed through the lens of complete redemption and the ultimate fulfilment of our salvation, any sorrows that we currently bear will be seen as contributing to our eternal, loud, AMEN. Sorrows will be turned to joy by the one who can do anything. With the Lord, the end of the journey (when we will be one-to-one with Him eternally) is always more blessed than the beginning.
Read the whole encounter in Job 38-42