Sometimes we all go through experiences that are hurtful, unjust and downright sad. Sometimes, in the middle of it all, we can tangibly feel the presence of God and sometimes, we can’t. And if you’re anything like me, at some point you’ll have wondered (secretly), is God going to fix this? Can He really sort this one out?
Oh, for the record, I know He can, but that doesn’t mean God always works things out the way I want Him to.
I’ve been chugging through one of those experiences recently and yesterday morning, I picked up my Bible and in a tone which came out a bit more aggressively than planned, said, ‘right God, I NEED you to speak to me’.
If I’m honest, I was having a bit of what we used to call a ‘paddy’. I think it’s our family’s word for describing a temper tantrum. I didn’t quite stamp my feet and scream, but I said to God, ‘this is just NOT fair. It’s ridiculous. And to top it all, why aren’t you helping? Answering me?’
Ever had the feeling that God’s laughing at you? Not in a spiteful, condescending way, but in a sort of ‘If-only-you-could-see-what-I-see’ sort of way?
Well that’s what happened yesterday after I had a paddy and then opened my Bible reading notes which directed me to Job 38.
Great, thought I. More suffering and injustice. Just what I need to read.
But it turns out that after a great deal of silence, Job 38 is the beginning of God answering Job.
And if I’m reading this correctly, it’s almost as though God is laughing at Job. Not laughing at his suffering or his pain, but actually reminding Job that he only sees half the picture.
The Message version is actually quite funny;
Pull yourself together, Job! Up on your feet! Stand tall! I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers. Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that! Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone. While the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise? And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb? That was me! I wrapped it in soft clouds, and tucked it in safely at night. Then I made a playpen for it, a strong playpen so it couldn’t run loose, And said, ‘Stay here, this is your place. Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.’”
Is God actually being funny?
I think He is.
He’s looking on at Job’s suffering (which was undoubtedly very real) and listening to all the bizarre advice being thrown around by Job’s hapless friends, and He’s saying, ‘you know nothing….nothing at all. If you could get just a glimpse of my power, my overwhelming ability to change things in a split second, you’d never doubt again’.
As the chapter continues, God reminds Job that He;
Knows where light comes from and where darkness lives.
Has travelled to where snow is made, hail is stockpiled and lightning is launched.
He is the father of dew and the mother of ice.
He looks Venus in the eye and can get the immediate attention of clouds.
He’s explored the deepest part of the oceans and with just a nod, can cause rain to fall.
And the subtext to all of that is simply; is there anything too hard for me?
You think you’re in an impossible situation? Don’t forget who you are talking to…
Reading that sharply put my weird few weeks into instant perspective. I was talking to the God who launches lightning, who stops thunderbolts, who stockpiles rain and hail, who is friends with the deepest part of the ocean.
And there was me, thinking that He couldn’t fix my problem.