In Part One we observed that crying and complaining to God, as well as casting our cares upon Him, are privileges purchased for us by Christ. God understands our needs and weaknesses and responds to our cries with great compassion. But, we asked, does God’s care and compassion give us license to complain against God, who is perfect in power and goodness, who always acts in perfect righteousness and desires the best for His people? To answer the question we turned to the experience of Job, who’s intense suffering eventually gave way to his questioning the righteousness, knowledge, and goodness of God, to the extent that he even accused God of favoring the wicked. We come now to God’s response.
At long last, however, God answered Job, but not in a manner he or we might have expected. “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” (Job 38:1-4). After two more chapters of God schooling Job on the proper attitude toward one’s Creator, God gets to the heart of the matter.
‘Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.’ Then Job answered the LORD and said: ‘Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.’ Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?’ (Job 40:2-8).
Ouch. Couldn’t God have gone easy on poor Job? After all, Job’s suffering was extreme and he suffered because he was righteous. Perhaps no one, before or after Job, had better cause to complain against God. Satan had insulted Job and God by attributing Job’s righteousness to mere pragmatic selfishness. Job loved God for what he could get and nothing more, went Satan’s argument. Thus, to prove Satan wrong, Job suffered. But Job was oblivious to this. Wouldn’t that justify Job’s complaint against God just a little bit? Apparently not.
God was educating angels and every soul who would read of Job’s experience (Job 1:6-2:7). Job knew nothing of his role as God’s spiritual object lesson, but as created by a God of perfect righteousness who had greater purposes than he understood, Job had no right to question the goodness or righteousness of God. Nor do we. In the end, Job learned his lesson.
Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:1-6).
God proceeded to bless Job more in the end than prior to his suffering. What’s more, Job now has all of eternity to bask in the infinite blessings of God, while saints yet to arrive in glory learn eternal lessons from his relatively short life and suffering. God answered Job and we reap the benefits.
God, however, does not always confront our complaints as He did with Job. Sometimes He puts up with our foolishness for a time or until we learn our lesson the hard way. But, God’s patience toward our tantrums is not approval. God bears with a great many things in His beloved children, just as He is slow to reveal His wrath toward a blaspheming world. He is “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7). Yet, anger or complaints against God are never justified, however patient God may be with us. What legitimate charge can created and fallen people bring against a God of perfect righteousness? We do best to trust His perfect character, even as we cry out to Him in our troubles. Our good and loving God will always do what is right.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© 2015 Craig Biehl, Adapted from Craig Biehl, God the Reason: How Infinite Excellence Gives Unbreakable Faith, Carpenter’s Son Publishing, 2015.
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