Questions-Day 10 (2/22/13)
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Where were you?
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
2 Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
4 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
Author Sheila Walsh tells of meeting Debbie Arden. Debbie's husband was the agent for golfer Payne Stewart. He and Stewart died in a freak airplane accident on October 25, 1999. Debbie Arden claims that her husband's death led her to a new place of assurance and faith in God. As she said, "God used the death of my beloved husband to, as Oswald Chambers said, 'Pierce a hole in the darkness so that I could behold the face of God.' I am a changed woman.'" This is one way one can approach the message of the book of Job - -God can use the dark moments in our lives to "pierce a hole in the darkness."
For Jewish and Christian theologians alike, Job is an immensely difficult book to interpret for two reasons: 1) Its use of complex Hebrew words which have multiple meanings and 2) the content of the book. So we won't be able to address the entire book of Job in this brief reflection.
In Job 26-31 Job makes a long speech in reply to his friend Bildad. It is filled with statements and questions. Job's friend Elihu replies in Job 32-37. The questions which Job asks in chapters 26-31 are not addressed in chapter 38. The beginning of chapter 38 gives us a clue, "Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm, He said." The presence of God in the majestic acts of nature are called "theophanies". The very mention of the storm is an underscoring of how wide the gap is between the God of all creation and the limits of humanity.
From childhood we are seemingly bound by the inquiry to know "why"? A recent commercial for a car opens with a child asking "why" to a father-looking figure. After a dozen answers, the "I bought the right car come ask me kid -- man" tells the youngster, "I don't know, why not ask your dad?"
Of the many mysteries and lessons of Job, we can learn this one in this season of Lent. None of them will deter God's love for you. You can ask "why" over and again. And to most all of our questions we will probably not find answers sufficient to our human logic and interests. So we listen to Job to be reminded that we are the creation and we live with the mystery of questions. But for every question born of confusion, look to the sunrise and ask yourself "How did I make that happen?" For every act of cruelty you read about and don't understand, hold an infant in your arms and try to really understand the complexity of life. For every good-bye you have spoken to a loved one, hear the echo of the words of Scripture, "those who believe in me will never die."
Maybe our "why" is an opportunity to have a conversation with God and observe God punching holes in the darkness.