“Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind.” Job 38:1
Sing it with me: “He’s got the whole world in His hands, He’s got the whole wide world, in His hands. He’s got the whole world, in His hands, He’s got the whole world in His hands.” We’re all familiar with the song. God’s got the little bitty babies, you and me brother, you and me sister, and everybody in His hands. That’s the gospel according to Glen Campbell. It’s a comforting thought to believe that God’s got the whole world in His hands.
Except when you feel like you’ve slipped through His fingers. We all spend some time wondering if life has spun out of control. Is God in charge?
That’s where Job is as we near the end of the book bearing his name. He has gone head to head with God and with friends that no one needs. You will often hear it said that the Book of Job is the biblical explanation for suffering. But that’s not true. Job is not an explanation. It’s an answer.
You know the story. Satan wants to put Job to the test, but really to put God to the test. “Sure Job worships you. He’s got everything going for him. But take away all the blessings, and he will curse you!” God takes the challenge. Poor Job has no say in the wager.
Satan takes away everything but Job’s life, and at one point in the story Job is sitting in ashes, dressed in old, rough, brown sackcloth, and scarping his sores.. He wonders where God has been. He thinks He’s been unfair. He fends off accusations from his friends, and turns his own accusations toward God. “You’ve worn me out.” Life hasn’t turned out well for Job. He doesn’t deserve what he’s getting and is honest enough to take his complaints to God who, up to this point, has been silent.
Then God shows up. Out of a whirlwind God shows up. A tornado. An F-5 answer from the Almighty. Job cowers, awestruck before the roaring vortex (he would have said it sounded like a freight train if he’d known back then what a freight train was). The swirling, roaring winds, picking up dirt and tents and straw and wheat and anything else lying around. A mighty twisting cloud rising from the ground, reaching up to heaven, lightening flashing. God showed up.
And He spoke. “Gird up your loins, son. I’ve got a few questions for you. Let’s hear your answers.” And the beautiful, poetic questions begin. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?…When the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy?”
God asks Job to explain oceanography: “Who shut the doors of the sea and prescribed bounds for it and said, ‘Thus far shall you come and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed.’”
And astronomy: “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?”
And particle physics: Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And where is the place of darkness?…You surely know for you were born then! The number of your days is great!”
And meteorology “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain, and a way for the thunderbolt?…Has the rain a father or who has begotten the drops of dew?”
For two chapters the questions continue. You can hear a little irritation in God’s words. He had listened patiently to Job’s accusations and complaints. He held back even when Job crossed the line, but there comes a time when God shows up, and He has some questions of His own.
So what’s the point? We can have all of our questions, contentions, complaints, musings, all of our sophisticated, post-enlightenment, post-modern, brilliant insights, but there’s a time when we need to remember a simple truth: “There is a God, and you’re not Him.”
Life is complicated enough without thinking you’re in charge. I do believe I have a say in what goes on in my life. Personal responsibility and God’s sovereignty both happen at the same time. But if I put too much emphasis on me, I edge God out and end up in a dark, lonely, and exhausting place.
Let’s give God His due this week. Surrender is not a bad word, especially when you don’t have anything left to fight with. So surrender. Let God show up. Live safely in His hands. He’ll give you what you need to handle problems and open your eyes to all the praises.
Dr. Terry Ellis
September 14, 2014