From the Pulpit: Arguing with God
Have you ever asked the question ‘Why God?’ Have you ever wished that you knew and understood who God is and why He/She does what God does? I have, and I think it is safe to say that we all have questioned God, especially in the last two weeks?
The very act of questioning becomes the beginning of our search to know and to understand God. There is something tricky about asking questions though because it seems the more we question and search, the more questions we uncover.
Ultimately, what we uncover is a deeper knowledge of who we are in relation to God and who God is in relation to us.
There are so many questions. Who is God? Does He care for us individually? Does God cause bad things to happen to good people? Does God answer prayer? Why can’t I hear Him speak? How can I become closer to God? These questions and many more roam freely in the minds of a believer. Such was the case with Job.
Job was a righteous man who lived in a time where God was believed to be the judge and jury to all mankind. For 37 chapters, Job, his wife, three of his friends and a pretentious young man named Elihu wrestled with the question of why?
Why did all the bad luck befall Job? He lost his family and all his worldly possessions in a bet between God and Satan. Satan was certain that Job praised God because of his good fortunes and God knew that Job was simply righteous, regardless of what he owned and the family relationships he had.
The book is an extended attempt to see if Job will abandon his faith under the anguish of suffering. The crux of the matter is not the suffering but the faith, expressed in Job’s question to his wife, “Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?” (2:10).
For over thirty chapters we hear Job and his friends discuss why things are happening the way they are and making attempts to explain God’s purpose in the midst of their circumstances. In the absence of truth they fabricate myths. Are we not doing the same thing with this pandemic virus?
Finally, God speaks. God interrupts the conversation. But what God says isn’t exactly what they expected to hear.
“Where you there when I made the world? If you know so much, tell me about it. Who decided how large it would be? Who stretched out the measuring line over it? Do you know all the answers? What holds up the pillars that support the earth? Who laid the cornerstone of the world?” (vrs 4-6) Of course, Job’s only answer was God.
That’s our only answer too when we question. God is sovereign. God is the creator. God is ruler over all. God simply is. That’s all we really need to know and our belief system grows from there. We strive to learn and to grow and to know God and that can take many forms; awe, prayer, gratitude, trust, personal understanding, wisdom, inner knowing, intuition, gut hunches…..
God did not answer Job’s question of Why me? He answered by showing Job just how big God really is. We don’t have a God who responds to us as if we are ordering off of Amazon. Instead, he lets us figure it out over a lifetime. He rewards our searches with a deeper knowledge of who God is.
God is the God who created and cares for the entire world, not just ours. In chapter 41, God points out to Job His power over the weather and the animals and all of creation. God is the Creator of the Universe but sometimes we put Him into a much smaller box.
So the challenge for us as believers is not to seek the answer to the “Why?” question and instead seek to answer the question, “Who am I in relation to God?”
If God is the creator then we are his creations, his people, his creatures. As creatures who are made in the image of God, we are people who have been given wisdom and understanding by our Creator. When we do the deep work of seeking to know ourselves as a creature of God, we begin to know God.
When we, like Job, repent and surrender our world to become co-creators in God’s world, our lives become so much richer. Perhaps that richness will be reflected in wealth and material things like what God restored to Job.
Perhaps that richness will be measured in the depth of our family connections and love and joy of our circle of friends. Job was a righteous man. He loved and served the Lord. He honored God in all that he did. I think the words and the attitude of Job can serve as a benchmark for us living in the chaos of life today.
Job said in 2:10: When God sends us something good, we welcome it. How can we complain when he sends us trouble?” Even in all his suffering Job said nothing against God.
So the next time you find yourself in a position of deep emotional trouble and you want to cry out to God, “Why me, Lord?” go ahead and rant and rave and get it out of your system.
Then, after you have spent that emotional energy, I challenge you to get quiet and go inward and ask the deeper question, “What do I need to learn about myself so that I may more fully trust in you God?” Hopefully, two very different questions will yield two very different answers.