It was 4:12am, fercryinoutloud.
But keeping my eyes closed doesn’t prevent me from hearing the persistent invitation of the Holy Spirit and in the silence of a sleeping house, His quiet whisper can be even more intrusive than Patrick Swayze singing “I’m Henry the Eighth, I Am” on repeat.
By 4:26am, the increasing activity of my mind was impossible to ignore, so I stopped being stubborn, slipped out of bed and went downstairs.
By 4:45am I was sitting on my loveseat with a fresh brewed cup of coffee and a Bible, being stared at by three confused and sleepy cats.
I have a few Bibles, but by (what I now believe is) non-coincidence, the new year had prompted me to start reading a chronological Bible. If you know anything about Biblical timelines, you know the Book of Job was written early, around 6th century BC, so that means in a chronological Bible, Job shows up MUCH sooner than he does in a traditionally arranged Bible.
Meaning that yesterday, at 4:45am in the morning, I found myself reading the Book of Job. Specifically, the part where the Lord “answered” Job. Chapters 38 through 42.
I’ll say right now, Job 40:3-4 is among my favorite passages, but I’m jumping ahead.
In chapter 2, after Job has lost everything, and I mean e v e r y t h i n g, three friends come to him and give us an example of what to do for a friend who is suffering when there really is nothing we can do:
“Then they sat on the ground with Job seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him because they saw how much he was suffering.”
Because, sometimes, there are no words.
After seven days and seven nights, Job starts talking to them; actually, lamenting to them. His friends reply. They spend 35 chapters slugging through Job’s suffering, all he has lost, why God would do this to him and Job lamenting about how he wants to talk to God and ask Him Why? Why? Why would He DO this!?!?
Then, in Chapter 38:1, God shows up in a storm and “answers” Job’s questions:
“Then the Lord answered Job from the storm. He said:
“Who is this that makes my purpose unclear
by saying things that are not true?
Be strong like a man!
I will ask you questions,
and you must answer me.
Where were you when I made the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.”
The Lord continues with a barrage of questions that, in all honesty, remind me of Genie talking to Aladdin:
“Excuse me? Are you lookin’ at me? Did you rub my lamp? Did you wake me up? Did you bring me here? And all of a sudden you’re walking out on me? I don’t think so, not right now. You’re getting your wishes, so sit down!“
Combine my Disney Genie/God comparison heresy with scripture and my paraphrase goes something like this:
“You wanted to talk to me? You don’t think this is “fair”? You want answers? You want me to explain myself to you? Here I am. And I have a few questions for YOU. Did YOU create the earth? Did you…“
Question after question in verse after verse, each one another confirmation that God is God and Job is . . . not. and then,
“The Lord said to Job: “Will the person who argues with the Almighty correct him? Let the person who accuses God answer him.”
Then Job answered the Lord: “I am not worthy; I cannot answer you anything, so I will put my hand over my mouth.”
Why did I take the time to write this and go out on a potentially heretical limb to share it?
Because I believe that:
We may struggle and face dark days ahead, but no matter how bad things get, God is SOVEREIGN. None of what’s happening right now is out of His control or even surprises Him.
God has a history of redeeming situations that satan means for evil and using broken people to accomplish his greater purposes.
I recognize that people who are suffering seek God exponentially more often and more intensely than those who are safe and comfortable and satisfied and successful by the world’s standards, like the story of the rich man in Mark 10.
So. No matter what happens,
when the Holy Spirit leads me to someone who needs encouragement or help, I need to pray and ask Him to equip me to be His hands and feet and eyes and ears and voice because I can’t do it on my own
when worry creeps into those quiet moments between awake and asleep, I need to pray and ask God to remind me that He is sovereign and He is with me and I can trust Him.