God always provides because God is always with us. Whether or not he provides immediate peace or justice, the motivation we must recognize is that his desire is for us to be with him in his glory.
Job spends over thirty chapters in his eponymous book struggling and contending with God that he might find reasonable explanations for the problems he is facing. Speech after speech, Job is restless and no amount of worldly wisdom can soothe his wounds or cleanse his soul of devastating heartache. It is then that God reveals himself to the man in prayer. He presents to Job a series of questions, none of which can be sufficiently answered by worldly humanity. “Who prepares for the raven its nourishment when its young cry to God and wander about without food?” (Job 38:41)
What the book of Job teaches us is that it is not always about finding all the answers, even if it were, sometimes those answers only prove more painful. When God finds the servant weeping and pleading for answers, God provides only more questions. Yet as God pours out these questions Job is inundated with the most glorious fact, the most elegant truth he could have ever hoped to find. It is not that God explains away all of the problems of the earth…it is that the presence of God comes and dwells with Job. In the presence of God, Job understands joy and peace at long last. In the presence of God, Job is not weighted down by questions any longer, even if he still desires those answers. Notice that the doubts and trials, the sufferings, the lack of wisdom – none of that has permanently left the mind of Job, but Job’s heart found a Sovereign God. Those issues, issues far more than most of us have or will ever have to deal with, are paled in comparison to the presence of the Sovereign God.
We are not bad followers of Christ because we lack wisdom. We are not bad followers of Christ because we do not have all the answers to the suffering that goes on in our world. We are not bad followers of Christ because we face doubts and trials. We are bad followers of Christ because of sin… and still Christ died to save us from that sin. We are Christ followers because of the presence of God with us: Holy Spirit.
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once famously wrote in his book The Cost of Discipleship, “when Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.” Bonhoeffer tagged much more onto this saying, but it means nothing less than allowing for God to take hold of the problem of suffering and of sin. It is not simply “let go and let God.” It is to seek the necessary means of ridding ourselves of that stuff that keeps us from recognizing the greatness and superiority of our God in the face of all struggles on this earth.
The words of our Christ ring true: “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11)
Job hears from God a call to obedience and a call for submission. It is not that Job may then heap up more burden, but that God may see to it that Job can dwell in the joy of his creator. We as followers of Christ are vessels bound for a joy that makes our own joy complete.
We find the answers to those famous questions listed in the book of Job by looking to the words of Christ. “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
Despite whatever problems you may be facing, despite whatever questions burn on your tongue, never cease to ask God to be with you. His desire is not for pain and anxiety, but for his joy to be shared in his creation…by his creatures, the images of his own glory. We read of the joy experienced by Job shortly after this response from God, but we are to experience this joy for ourselves that comes from the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us now. Whether or not we have answers, know that God has far better, far truer ones.
Pray this week that in the name of Jesus Christ, his joy will be made full in you. Pray that you might learn more fully to see yourself as God sees you now, in the Spirit of Christ.
Pastor Chris Osterbrock
All Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation