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Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?…” – Job 38:1-4a
I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. – Job to God, Job 42:2
How can this be?! How could this have happened? No way could this be right. No way could this be God’s plan.
We are all given to platitudes. “It’s all good.” “It’s not your fault.” “God’s still on His throne.” They may be true but they’re not very satisfying.
When we’re hit by a strange and unsettling reality, we want to call it something else. We want to cry out that it’s not good and it’s got to be someone’s fault…we ache to point our finger at someone…anyone. At times, the blame ascends all the way to Heaven…to God Himself.
Job, a righteous God-fearer whose story is chronicled in the Bible, found himself in that very situation. He didn’t just wake up one morning to news that he couldn’t stomach; he was singled out for the most devastating personal loss – the deaths of all his children and his own health ruined. His questioning of the rightness of this unimaginable occurrence was understandable.
Having friends who offered all sorts of scenarios as to how this could have happened…gave Job no relief.
Finally, he took his case to God, objecting to how such a thing could happen. In God’s defense of Himself in the matter (Job 38-41), He opened Job’s eyes to the wonder and goodness of all that He does.
God is not put off by our questioning, our fears, our confusion…this God who lovingly asks questions Himself for us to see our own strange thinking about Him…this God who is the answer to every question that’s whispered or shouted from the depths of our beings. Where were you, Child? …Where were we?! How gentle He is with our self-righteousness and presumptuousness that we know better than He. We may not understand…but we can be assured that He is working out our good and His glory in every page turned in history. We can question, absolutely…but He calls us to continue following Him, even in our questioning…to love Him, to love others…with everything in us.
On this past Sunday, we gathered at Movement Church, and worshiped together. This Sunday followed the Presidential election, the outcome of which probably surprised every voter and non-voter in America…either joyfully or sorrowfully. This Sunday was made for worship. No back clapping, or derision, or condescending opinions of any political ilk. Whatever hopefulness and whatever despair were set aside. Just voices raised in community to the God whose purposes are not thwarted…no matter what.
Sin has taken hold of this whole land
Will You not say anything else to me?”
sunk the banks and stretched the line over
all the earth and carved out its corner stone?
told the sun to split the night open
caused the morning dark with its light to show
marked the reach of tides on those new shores
hung the day the waves rose and first broke forth
walked the caverns carved in the black deep
through the gates of darkness there on its floor
Have you seen the armory I hold
snow and hail are stacked up in silos
for the times of trouble and war and strife
Can you raise your voice to the storm cloud
would the thunder answer and ring out
does the lightning ask you where it should strike
Who has cleft the channels for torrents
rain to sprout the desert with forest
in the wilderness that my hand has built
Can you hunt the prey for your lions
can you use the cords of Orion
is this whole world bending beneath your will?”
I spoke of things I did not understand
things too wonderful for me
although I had no right to ask
my God knelt and answered me*
For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back? – Isaiah 14:27
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