Richard L. Floyd
"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?" - Job 38:4
My friend Andy and I had just finished a prayer for the needs of the world when we started lamenting how endless those needs always are.
"If I were God . . ." Andy said, and stopped himself. "Always be suspicious," he said, "of any sentence that begins, 'If I were God!'"
We were not the first people to question the troubling gap between what we believe about our God and the immense suffering in our world. The Bible is full of just such questions.
Some of the very best of these questions are found in the Book of Job, which is the story of a good man enduring unbearable suffering. Job desperately wants to know why? His three "friends" offer him their pious answers, which are variants of "You had it coming!"
Their view that suffering is always deserved lingers: "What goes around comes around."
But what if it isn't true? What if the divine mystery is more complex than that? What if bad things do happen to good people? What if the punishment doesn't always fit the crime?
That's what Job wants to know, so he questions God for a better answer. And God answers Job "out of the whirlwind," with an answer so big it takes up four chapters.
But it is not an answer so much as a series of questions to Job: "Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?" "Have you entered the springs of the sea, and walked in the recesses of the deep?" "Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Tell me if you know all this?"
God is saying to Job, "What do you know about being God?" Job accepts that his questions are never really answered, because he realizes he gets something better than answers; he gets a relationship.
He knows God hears his questioning, and he, in turn, hears the voice of God.
Vast One, your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts, hear our questions and our cries for your world, and remind us that you are God, and we are not.