The Human Debate with God: Reflection of Job 38-39

A few weeks ago my terrier ran to the corner of the yard and I saw a commotion ensue. I yelled in the deepest voice I could, “Noooo!” My terrier froze. Upon arrival at her side I saw that she had a dove in her mouth! I pried open her tight grip to free the dove and knew in my head this was not just any dove. It was one of two siblings that were hatched in a secluded planter in my neighbor’s yard. I watched these two struggling to get out of their eggs, get fed by their mother, and then experience the wonderful day they were ready to fly.  As I am on the phone with wildlife rescue the dove starts fluttering around trying to fly but instead falls off my lap onto the ground.  Slowly its eyes began to close as its head swayed back and forth. This is the first time in my life I’ve watched a living creature struggle for life and then die in front of my eyes.  Then it hit me. This wasn’t just any dove. God KNOWS this dove. He KNOWS it just died.

Ironically, this happened as I’ve been reflecting on Job 38-39 this month.  Job questions God in prior chapters and God finally answers Job out of a whirlwind with questions that no human could possibly answer.  God’s monologue centers on His providence and moves from questioning Job about creation to questioning Job about how His creatures fill the earth and subdue it.  God began this monologue with a preliminary comment “who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge (38:2),” letting Job know he cannot possibly understand how God manages the world.  My reflection on God’s monologue has brought renewed awareness in my own life and ministry.

First, it is clear that God’s transcendence is unfathomable. He makes the sun rise at the appropriate time and He has it rain at just the right hour. I, nor Job, nor any human can understand how this happens.  Second, while his transcendence is amazing, His immanence brings comfort.  He knew when one of His doves fell lifeless in front of me.  I am more aware of the reality of the theory of abundance over the theory of scarcity.  It’s not that everyone gets a slice of God’s pie and when it’s gone some people miss out. The theory of abundance means God has many more pies in the kitchen!  If he never forgets about the dove that falls lifeless, how much more will he not forget about me in my situations?

The renewed awareness for my ministry centers on the human debates we all have with God.  Job 38-39 is specifically going to be a place I point people to when the question is asked: “Why does a good God allow ‘this’ to happen?”  I am frustrated when this question is answered with the verse from First Peter, “Cast all your care upon him for he cares for you.”  The question itself is a contest between human understanding and God’s knowledge.  I Peter 5:7 is “fluff” theology for this type of question.  It is Job 38-39 that considers the “otherness” of God and draws the conclusion that trying to reason the mind and purposes of God is outside human jurisdiction.  God’s monologue to Job proves that human understanding will never catch up with God’s knowledge and sovereignty.  To be content in this is to realize that God’s attributes are inclusive and cannot be considered at the exclusion of another.  For example: His justice is loving, merciful, eternal, holy, jealous, and wrathful; and His wrath is just, loving, merciful, eternal, holy, and jealous.

As I minister to the saints and God’s goodness is questioned, I will point them to Job 38-39.  Although this still does not provide the complete answer for the human debate with God, it is a good starting point.  As God spoke to Job in chapters 38 and 39 I hear Him speak to me.  And He speaks to me everyday as I live in and experience the creation He spoke to Job about.  The question is: do I hear Him and will I submit to His sovereignty when my questions are unanswered?

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