We can find nearly every argument in the book of Job about why there is pain in the world, but the arguing never seems to help Job much. His is a crisis of relationship more than a crisis of doubt. Can he trust God? Job wants one thing above all else: an appearance by the one Person who can explain his miserable fate. He wants to meet God Himself, face to face.
Eventually Job gets his wish. God shows up in person (see Job 38:1). He times His entrance with perfect irony, just as Job’s friend Elihu is expounding on why Job has no right to expect a visit from God.
No one—not Job, nor any of his friends—is prepared for what God has to say. Job has saved up a long list of questions, but it is God, not Job, who asks the questions. “Brace yourself like a man,” He begins; “I will question you, and you shall answer me” (v. 3). Brushing aside thirty-five chapters’ worth of debates on the problem of pain, God plunges into a majestic poem on the wonders of the natural world.
God’s speech defines the vast difference between the God of all creation and one puny man like Job. His presence spectacularly answers Job’s biggest question: Is anybody out there? Job can only respond, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (42:3).
Lord, we have so many questions about life and its unfairness. You have shown Yourself good to us. Help us to trust You for what we cannot understand.
No calamity is beyond God’s sovereignty.
After all Job had endured, how could the Lord of heaven respond to his honest, agonizing questions with more questions?
Job forgot the case he wanted to argue in the court of heaven (Job 23:1–10). The presence and questions of God suddenly reawakened the trust he’d expressed in those first moments of the worst days of his life (1:21; 2:10).
We, on the other hand, have an advantage that Job lacked. In the prologue of Job’s story, we are taken behind the scenes to see how God viewed Job (1:1–2:10).
What if our lives had such a prologue? Would it help to know that more is going on than we can see and that it’s better than we imagine? Even if we aren’t an exemplary example as Job was, can we take heart in being one of the dearly loved sinners for whom Christ died?