Monday, September 29, 2014

An Uncomfortable Answer from the Whirlwind

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind: 
“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?  Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
    Tell me, if you know so much.      
Job 38:1-4 (NLT)
I’ve read this passage so many times it’s easy to gloss over the thunderous impact it ought to have upon a mortal man who prays.

But not today.

“Job’s troubles” is a familiar phrase; it means one calamity piled on top of another; unrelenting hard times.

Job was a successful, rich and respected God-fearing man with a large and largely untroubled family.  In a mere 7 verses (Job 1:13-19) the unsuspecting godly man loses virtually everything.

And the questioning began; God….WHY?  WHAT DID I DO?

For 37 chapters there is question piled on top of silence. 

And then….


Whenever I have read or preached on this text, most often the weight of what I see is a comforting answer that we simply must trust God, because He knows best.

But what about the uncomfortable answer?  What about the answer that makes us squirm?
God says to Job:  Where were YOU (little man) when I created everything…tell me.

The uncomfortable answer, for me, is that one where I have pled my case before God in prayer – laid-out all the woes of my miserable existence, and listed all the ways I’ve been shortchanged.  I let God know in no uncertain terms that I’ve tried to be good and help others and serve him….and the voice of God comes back as the unrelenting light of truth invading every aspect of my life, requiring that I give an accounting of that life. 

It’s where God says, OK Russell, you’ve had your say…now you get REALLY honest and answer my question.  No platitudes, no excuses, no throwing off your part in all this on someone else this time….put on hold all your banal repetition of how victimized you’ve been and YOU answer ME:  Do you REALLY want an answer from me?

I am stumped every time at this.  Do you see my problem? 

If I say, Yes, Lord…talk to me, I have placed myself in the uncomfortable position of actually having to trust God.  He may have something planned like He had for Moses.  Moses wanted answers; he wanted to see the Israelites rescued, but when he got face to face with God in a burning bush, God said, I’m sending YOU to do the job, big guy.

Now that’s an uncomfortable answer.

Praying uncomfortably…that’s what we’re talking about here.

Do you remember the story of the farming community that was strangling in a drought?  It hadn’t rained in months and the crops were in danger; so they scheduled a prayer meeting to pray for relief.  As the people gathered at the church one little girl was heard asking her mother, Mommy, where are the umbrellas?  Why doesn’t everyone have an umbrella?  Aren’t we going to ask God to send rain?

And that is the point of uncomfortable prayer; if you are going to be honest with God about engaging in life with Him….bring an umbrella; place yourself in harm’s way because you’re about to get wet in the answer.

For You, Today

The next time you pray, decide before you open your mouth if you really want an answer. 

It will change everything about what you say to God.

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