It had worked! Kinda’. Job had wanted a one-on-one with God, and He got it. But it wasn’t quite what he had in mind.
Heaven rolled back its curtain. The courtroom door was opened and Job’s case was on the docket. But instead of God taking the stand and responding to Job’s line of questioning, Job was the witness and God the cross-examiner.
“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.”
(Job 38:2-3 ESV)
And so begins “the conversation.” But it wouldn’t be about suffering as Job had demanded. Instead, it would focus on Sovereignty. The “why” would not be addressed, rather the “Who” would be revealed in all His majestic glory and power. And God graciously, though sternly and powerfully, transforms Job through the renewing of his mind. A right understanding of who the Creator and Sustainer is would go a long way towards Job ability to deal with all that the Creator and Sustainer had permitted.
But here’s what struck me as I began reading of Job’s encounter of the divine kind: Job met God out of the storm.
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said . . .
(Job 38:1 ESV)
Jehovah revealed Himself through the tempest. Amidst the hurricane the human heard the voice of God.
To be sure this refers to the physical manifestation of what happens when God breaks the sound barrier. When God descended to speak with Moses on Sinai, His visit was accompanied with “thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain” so that the people who were gathered at the foot of the mountain “trembled” (Ex. 19:16).
But as I read this I couldn’t help but think it was true figuratively as well. That God also spoke to Job out of the raging commotion of Job’s circumstance.
What Job had lost was incalculable. What he was suffering through was unimaginable. The debate with his comforters, extremely unhelpful. And not knowing why, almost unbearable. But God reveals Himself out of that storm.
At just the right time, when the wisdom of Job and his friends had run their course and been found wanting, God shows up. Not to answer any questions. Not to provide any easy solutions. But just to show up. To reveal Himself. To put earth’s circumstance in the context of heaven’s reality. And so, out of the storm of suffering, God graciously makes Himself known. Amidst all the questions, He shows Himself to be the answer.
Criticism of His ways evaporates as, once more, He patiently reveals Himself in the wonder of creation. Declarations of “unfair” fall silent through reminders that He is faithful and true. The darkness of the apparent vanity of that which is under the sun flees, as He again sheds the light of hope of an “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1Peter 1:4).
The sorrows of the temporal giving way to reminders of the eternal. The weakness of the flesh a platform to reveal the all-sufficient power of the Spirit.
And in this, out of the storm, God speaks. And in this, despite the storm, the inner man is restored and renewed.
And it testifies, again, to God’s grace. And it declares, forever, God’s glory.