A couple of weeks ago as I was teaching through the book of Job in my Old Testament class, I noted that though perhaps Job did not curse God, he did voice no little despair at his severe trials. In fact, he even despised the day of his birth: “May the day perish on which I was born” (Job 3:3a). Job ends, of course, with God speaking out of the whirlwind. Job and his friend had placed God on trial, but now the tables are turned, as the Lord asks, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me” (Job 38:3). The Lord asks Job where he was when he created the world and all its creatures. The point: His ways are higher than our ways, his thoughts than our thoughts. The Lord’s speech ends with him challenging Job: “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it.” (Job 40:2). A chastened Job answers, “Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth” (v. 4). As I told the class, I think what happens here is that Job becomes a Calvinist. He humbles himself in the knowledge of the sovereign Godhood of God.
I was listening to an interview on the radio this week with a woman who said, “I was raised Baptist [and not charismatic]. We were taught not to pray that God would take away our troubles but that he would give us the grace to walk through them.”
When Sarah Edwards, wife of colonial theologian Jonathan Edwards, learned that her husband had died in 1758 at age 54 after complications from taking a small pox vaccine, she is reported to have said to her children: “What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart.”
What trials have you undergone or will you undergo in the future? Will you place God on trial and question his justice, fairness, and goodness? Or will you kiss the rod and lay your hand on your mouth?
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
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