“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
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?
Not knowing or understanding is one of the most uncomfortable feelings, isn’t it? “Why?” is a question I’ve asked myself a lot lately. It’s also something I hear constantly as a parent of a curious five-year-old as he tries to not only make sense of the world around him but also develop his sense of what is right, what is wrong, and what is just. My son’s questions range from “Why did the dinosaurs have to die?” to “Why can’t I have dessert for breakfast?” I do my best to patiently provide answers. I sometimes have to find the answer (I’m thankful to live in the era of Google search) depending on the complexity of the question. Other times I have to explain things from the heart. I do my best to break down concepts of justice or responsibility in a way that a 5-year-old may understand but, even with my best, most simplified explanations, the concepts can be difficult to grasp.
In the midst of my explanation, I often realize I don’t really, truly understand either. I’m asking God “why?” a lot lately. Questions like “why are we still in the middle of this pandemic?”, “Why does COVID take some people from us while others don’t even know they have it?”. I read news articles and listen to interviews in hopes of gaining some understanding, but I still fall woefully short of real answers to some of my biggest questions. I hope that science and medicine may eventually reveal the answers to some of these mysteries, but others will remain.
In our passage today, Job was also desperate for understanding- what had he done to deserve such suffering? Why? Was God angry with him? God answers Job but not in the way we might want or expect.
God’s answer? “It’s complicated.”
The Creator of Heaven and Earth, the designer of the literal ground on which we stand, essentially tells Job that the systems of the world are complex and He alone sees the full picture. As unsatisfying as this answer might be, Job continues to hold on to his faith in God, the One who created our world. While Job might not understand, God does, and that is enough.
“God, remind us that you see the big picture. Remind us that your wisdom surpasses our understanding. Help us to have faith, even when we do not understand, knowing that You, the one who created the earth beneath our feet, have answers to questions we have not even thought to ask and let this knowledge give us peace. Amen.