The book of Job records a long and heated dialogue, but the conversation stops abruptly when God steps in. On the one hand, his appearance is a rebuke to Job’s challenges; he confronts Job with his error of justifying himself at God’s expense. I’m sure we can identify with Job because when the facts just don’t add up in our lives, isn’t it also our tendency to suspect that God has fallen down somewhere? God’s answer to Job – and to us – is that the complexity of his creation calls us to trust him with both the running of the universe as well as the ordering of our lives.
On the other hand, the fact that God shows up is the key answer Job wanted. He has struggled desperately with big questions: Why did this happen to me? Is God present? Is God just? What did I do wrong? Does God care? All the evidence around him becomes a tangled, confusing mess that points in directions he does not want to go. Ultimately only one of those questions is answered directly but his questioning comes to an end with the powerful answer that God does hear and see him – and that is enough.
Perhaps Job never found out the reason why his life took the painful twist that it did but interestingly, for us as the readers, that isn’t a question at all because we know why he suffered. The real question for us (and for God and Satan as well) is the theme of the story: how will Job respond to God when circumstances raise questions about who he is? In this way, Job is confirmed and vindicated. All along he has called out to God, directed his questions toward God, looked for God, longed for closeness with God – and this confidence he implicitly expresses in God is the core of his faith. In this way, Job got it right.
Though we know the rest of Job’s story, we live our own lives with the same unknowns that he had. Like Job, the answers to our “why” questions will likely not be found in what we can see but, like Job, we can be assured that there is more in the works than we realize. As well, the key question for us is whether we will look desperately to God in the middle of life’s muddles.