All these questions
I just finished reading through the page proofs of Rebekah, and in the reading I realized that the characters raised some tough questions about life, about God. Of course, these questions come out my own experiences and lessons learned, and perhaps questions that are still unanswered. What I love about Scripture is that the people God immortalized there were not afraid to voice the tough questions of life. Sometimes God answered them, but often God did not respond in the way they had expected. I remember as a kid having plenty of doubts and questions about life, about faith, about God. My dad, God bless him, seemed troubled by my questions then, but as he grew in his own faith and with the passing of years, he did not find the questions quite so troubling. Perhaps because he better knew the One who held the answers, whether He chose to reveal those answers or not.
Solomon asked a lot of questions in his search for and his testing of wisdom. But the man whose questions dug deepest and hurt at the most gut level was Job. Anyone who has suffered the kind of pain Job went through would likely feel the same. A quick search of the early chapters of Job reveal him asking, "why." Why didn't he die at birth?
"Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?"
Job's questions continued for chapter after chapter. His friends tried to offer him answers, but their answers were shallow in comparison to the depth of Job's pain. Sometimes we truly cannot understand or empathize with another's misery, and the best we can do as humans is to keep quiet and to listen and to pray.
I think most of us who are genuinely seeking and asking the tough questions want answers. Like Job, we want God to be the one to answer us. God eventually did speak to Job and did address Job's challenges. But He did so with a challenge and questions of His own. In part, God said,
"Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?"
And later, after several chapters of God meeting Job's challenge, Job recognized his own unworthiness. And yet again God said,
“Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
“Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you."
God continued to respond to Job's questions and accusations in a way I don't think Job expected. I can only imagine the fear and awe that would have come over him in that moment. Job spoke at last and said,
“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
Which brings me back to the first thought as I too ponder the questions of life, the whys and wherefores of trials and pain, the struggle of the human heart and mind against sin, against evil. And I wonder if we are asking the right questions. We see in such a limited way in our finite world. We expect God to stoop to our demands and to satisfy us by giving us the things we crave, when perhaps we are not craving the right things. We question God's goodness. We question His right to judge us for wrongdoing. We question how a good God could allow evil to prevail. We ask how God could be loving and let bad things happen to good people.
But perhaps the question we should be asking is who is this God who thunders from heaven, who made the universe, who can look at every proud man and bring him low? And if God is truly as powerful as the book of Job portrays (read chapters 38-42), wouldn't it be a good idea for me to get to know Him, to try to understand who He is and what He desires from me?
God is not there for our benefit. We are here for His. What other created being on earth questions the motives and intentions of the Creator?
God is not afraid of our questions. But if we would ask them, we must ask ourselves if we are ready for His answers.