Have you ever asked God, 'Where were you?'

A couple years ago, at an event announcing that the world-renowned Cooper Clinic would serve Ventana by Buckner, I heard Dr. Kenneth Cooper say the key to good health is simple: “Don’t do anything stupid.”

Bad things happen. You didn’t need me to tell you that, especially not now. But why do bad things happen? 

Sometimes, we do stupid things. Then again, sometimes hurricanes form this time of year, and it’s no one’s fault. Yet, the most human of reactions is to place blame. Bad things just don’t happen, do they?

Job’s good buddies knew he must be hiding something. After all, “sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” must mean Job did something really bad. 

The point of Job’s story is not an illustration of his patience, as legend says. God was making a point to the Hebrews that bad things happen, even to good people; that regardless of your self-righteousness, none of us are immune to pain and suffering. In all the history of literature, no work has wrestled so earnestly with the problem of suffering, pain and evil as the Book of Job does.

The significance lies not in the answer it gives to this agonizing problem of human existence, but in the skill with which it shows us that most of the popular and even religious answers are inadequate. Remember that the next time you get your theology from a social media meme.

When Job’s wife admonished him to “curse God and die,” rather than suffer, he replied with one of the most logical answers ever: “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”

The more Job listens to his friends, the more he spirals into self-pity, but it’s hard to blame him. Finally, God had enough when he shows up in Chapter 38 and doesn’t leave for four chapters. God launches into one of Scripture’s most powerful soliloquies. Out of a whirlwind, God starts with a question: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you and you instruct me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth! Tell me, if you have understanding.”

The punctuation is no accident. This is not a question, but an emphatic statement by God. By the end of God’s four chapters, Job responds with proper humility. “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge,” Job asks, referring to himself. “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

One of Job’s lessons to us is that it’s not whether you suffer, but how you will handle it when it happens. But an even more profound lesson comes from God, who reminds Job in a whirlwind that he “commanded the morning and caused the dawn to know its place.”

Let that be an encouragement today as we wrestle with 2020 and remember that our God “commands the morning.”

Written by Scott Collins, vice president of communications for Buckner International.

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