I am presently reading through the book of Job as part of my chronological reading of the Bible. I have come to appreciate that book more and more as I have experienced loss in my life. Job is a great example of worshipping God even when it hurts. Even when there are questions. Even when God seems distant.
Recently, I thought as I read: “Poor Job! He's been through so much!” But then I realized Job didn't want the pity inherent in such a thought. He wasn't a poor Job.
When he responded to his “friends”, he ultimately showed a better, though limited, understanding of God than them. He didn't understand why God was allowing such a trial, and he makes that clear. He did know, though, that hard times come to everyone, righteous or not. He knew that God was still in control and had a purpose. His friends thought the only reason one could face such suffering was that God was angry at the person and punishing them.
Over the past year, I have asked a lot of questions of God. At first with a terribly guilty conscience, but then a wonderful pastor told us about the questions asked in the Bible during hard times and slowly the guilt (and the questions, actually) subsided. I despaired of life at one point and wondered why God left me here on this earth. I felt great guilt for this, but I discovered Job felt the same way during his trials. Yet God never condemned him. Not for the questions. Not for the wish never to have been born. Not for the hurt or the grief.
But we must recognize that even in those things, Job sought no pity. He stated his case; he expressed his confusion and his weariness. He did not remain stuck there, though. When tough times plague us, we easily turn to self-pity and almost intentionally get stuck in our grief. What Job did, though, was to continually turn toward God in his anger, fear, frustration, and confusion. He looked at God, saw what he understood of God’s character, and said, “I don’t get it, but I know God is God.”
In the end, God, as far as we know, never explained Himself to Job. He gave Job a better understanding of Himself and that sufficed. How often do we, in our self-pity, insist God answer the why and wherefore of our problems and completely neglect to revel in the deeper intimacy we gain, the greater knowledge of Him that allows us to rest more fully in an understanding far beyond what we possessed before the trial? That makes us a poor Job. That puts us in a position much to be pitied wherein we learn so very little from the trial.
I still scratch my head from time to time. I see nowhere where God expects me to just let go of the questions. But even as I scratch my head, even as I wonder what God is up to, I am at rest knowing I don’t have answers and I probably never will. God is God. I am not. I love falling into the vastness of my great, holy, infinite, measureless God and knowing absolutely for certain He’s got me.