Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Larry Pray

Tuesday, November 25

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
—Job 38: 4,6,7

We commonly use the word “patience” when we think of the book of Job. It is a compliment to say to someone, “You have the patience of a Job.”

The book, however, has little to do with patience. If Job could have cut short his ordeal, he would have done so in the blink of an eye. After all, he had been wronged and he wanted to contest his plight. For 37 chapters he vies with God and his three friends, each of whom insists on Job's guilt for one sin or another. Job continues to insist he has done no wrong, and confesses that if he had the chance, he would approach God like a prince and prove his case.

Sharp question leads to sharp question, as anger leads to outrage. The contest is raw, visceral, and unrelenting.

But then, in the 38th chapter, something happens. God finally answers. Yet the answers seem to have nothing to do with Job's pointed questions. Instead God responds with a new set of questions. In subtle, evocative and beautiful verse, God seems to remind Job that he is no more, and no less, than part of creation. The dust to which Job wants to return is the same dust from which he, and all of us, were made. Even there creation continues its eloquent testimony.

The purpose of life is not to figure “it” all out, but to be part of God's full creation. Whatever moves us in that direction is to the good. And whatever leads us to  direct conversations with God —be they loving, or be they angry—that is also to the good. If our questions and answers are borne only of logic, we may miss the morning stars and the angelic choirs that surround us.

What is true for Job is true for us. When our arguments get too narrow, too small, and too self-centered, we risk overlooking God’s grace-filled reminders that, in the midst of difficult circumstances, we are surrounded by both beauty and love.

Almighty God, we too have our questions. Help us not miss the living poetry of the answers that reframe our very lives. Amen.