“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements – surely, you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? Or what were its bases sunk, or who laid the cornerstone, when the mornings stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” — The Lord God in Job 38: 4 – 7
The story of Job is indeed a tragic tale of great suffering. The author indicates to us where this suffering comes from: the devil himself endeavors to sway Job away from serving God. The sovereignty of God, however, rings as a constant theme in the book, as even Satan must ask permission of the Lord God before laying a finger on Job (a fact that should be all the more comforting to us, His church). God’s ultimate control over the situation causes Job’s friends to presume that if Job continues to suffer that he must have committed some great sin. Job responds that indeed he has not, even rising to a level of pride saying that he has done absolutely no wrong, and attempts to contend with God in frustration. But after his defense, asserting his righteousness, God speaks from a whirlwind. Is His response to tell Job what great sin was the cause of his suffering? No. God’s response to Him is indeed a response that we must so often remind ourselves of: who are you, oh man, to talk back to God?
In modern America, so often the Christian church paints Jesus or God in general as being this very gentle, soft-spoken, friendly and nice person, who, as though the God of this universe, wants merely to have a relationship with us. While modern depictions in movies and other media of our Savior have not helped with this, even in more Reformed circles we can be tempted to think of God in this manner. Yet we forget that this is the Triune God of Creation we are speaking of here. The Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, Changeless, Timeless, Boundless Creator of all that has been, is, and will be, and the Sustainer of all things. No thought springs to life in the mind of a creature that God does not permit. This Thrice Holy King is the One whom we worship and are permitted to have a relationship with in the first place, yet so often we, like Job, can fall into frustration with our situation. We cry out “woe is me!” and ask God “why?” Yet who are we that we should know better? Were we there when the constellations were formed? Were we there when the bounds of the ocean were laid?
There are surely times of great suffering and trials when we fall upon God, knowing not what we can do any longer. Yet there is a difference in fleeing to God in the midst of suffering, and blaming God for our suffering, as though He ought not have allowed it to pass. God is sovereign and knows all ends. He knows what course of events will bring about His glory and our good, and He works all things out towards such ends. We pray for strength and endurance, but in the end, we trust in Him. We fall to our knees knowing that He is God, and we are not. How can we question His plan? How can we test His wisdom? We are but dust, and ought to be humbled before the face of God.
All of this comes crashing down when we truly realize the utter state of our humiliation before God. Not only are we limited, humble creatures whose lives are but passing moments compared to God’s eternity. We also are rebels against a holy God, and yet He still loves us. Christ’s work of atonement for us is made that much more astounding when we fully realize who we are in comparison to Him. The God of this universe came down in the Second Person of the Trinity and became man, suffered, and died on our behalf. Our friendship with God, and indeed it is friendship, is not something that we should ever take for granted, but something that should leave us in a state of awe and wonder that we would be granted such friendship with Him at all. Where there should be enmity, God provides reconciliation. And so, brothers and sisters, this is why the prophet says that it is one of our chief duties to “walk humbly with our God.”
To walk with God at all requires a true assessment of who we are and who He is. And let that humility fill us with gratefulness in whatever circumstance comes our way, and trust that God continues to work all things out for His glory.