Job was a good, God fearing man who did everything right. He was hard working, conscientious and treated other people well. He was a good father and a good husband. He was a man of integrity with strong morals that he lived out; his word was his bond. Then tragedy and calamity struck. Everything was taken away.
Job naturally began to question God. Job’s questioning might have been the title to a book called Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? But his was not fiction; Job lived it. He wanted to know why he was being treated so unfairly, and Job was not content to ask the question and not be answered; he set everything aside, put on “sackcloth and ashes” and called out to God every day until God showed up.
Job is a lot like us. Many as many of us try to be good people. We try not to hurt people, and we help others when we can. We treat other people well. We are good stewards over what we have been given. We have worked hard and supported ourselves and our families.
We also sometimes question why bad things happen to good people and why bad people seem to prosper and have life easier than us. Life does not seem fair.
The difference between Job and some of us is that Job took his anger and his frustration and all of his negative feelings to God, and he refused to stop until he was answered. Many of us turn away from God at the point where life seems unfair and unbearable. Job planted himself and refused to move on without an answer.
We can say the job was honest with God. He did not hold back. His friends were no help either. I am sure many people can relate!
The thing that made all the difference for Job is that God showed up.
God did not answer any of Job’s questions. God simply showed up.
Job said before I had only heard of you, but now I have seen you! (Job 42:4) Job knew God existed. Job was a godly man, living a godly life, but he did not know God. He had no personal experience with God.
Atheists are a small percentage of the people in the world. Most people believe that God exists, but the world is full of people who do not really know God on a personal level. I was one of those people. I can speak from experience that, until I had an encounter with God (until God “showed up” in my life), I did not know or understand God; and I only began to know and understand God when I “saw” God for myself.
Like Job, for me, God showed up after a period of time seeking answers and earnestly wanting answers to the questions I had. It seemed like a long time, but I would not quit. I also had confidence that the answers were to be found.
I did not go looking for those answers in the Bible or in church, but I did not discount those things either. I just wanted to know what was true!
I identify strongly with Job, and I have found that Job’s experience is the normative one in the Bible and in the life of those for who God “shows up”.
We think we are pretty righteous. We know our hearts, and we really try to be good (unlike others we can point to). When God showed up, however, Job realized how utterly insignificant, small and unworthy he was in God’s presence, and there was absolutely nothing he could say to God. (Job 40:4)
Before Job had only head knowledge; when God showed up it was experiential, and that changed his perspective.
From the perspective of an encounter with God, Job realized that he had no authority to question God and no ability or authority to change God’s judgments or determinations; Job was in no position to condemn God to justify himself. (Job 40:8)
Job’s only response, and the only response that it appropriate when God shows up, was to change, to repent, to stop questioning and to accept God simply because He is God. (Job 42:6) Job stopped talking and began listening.
God is God, and we are not. It seems axiomatic, but we often do not live as if God is God. We go about doing our own things as if God does not matter in our lives and as if we govern ourselves. Even those of us who believe in God and “try to do the right thing” do it on our own terms, in our own time and by our own standards.
Everything changes when God shows up!
The end of the story is that God accepted Job (Job 42:8), not because Job was righteous, but because Job saw and honored God for who He is. After Christ, we describe this as accepting God as our Lord and Savior (acknowledging that God has the right to govern our lives and yielding to Him, accepting the sacrifice He offered for us in the death of Jesus on the cross and no longer trying to justify ourselves, but simply asking for mercy and accepting God’s grace).
The Bible is full of verses about the importance of seeking God. God looks for people who seek after Him. (Ps. 14:2)
We must seek God earnestly and honestly, like Job. God did not ultimately fault Job for being honest. God showed up because Job was earnest; he would not relent. Job knew that God existed, and he would not quit until he had answers.
“[W]ithout faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) “I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me.” (Proverbs 8:17)
“[S]eek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. “ (Deuteronomy 4:29)
We do not know the number of days we will live. We could die tomorrow. “Seek the while He may be found.” (Isaiah 55:6)
Many people believe in God like Job did, but we do not know God until He shows up in our lives. We question: how can a loving God [insert your difficult example here]….? And, we ask: what about people who have not heard? And all the questions people have asked…, but the questions take on a completely different hue when God shows up.
Notice that God did not answer any of Job’s questions! While there are answers to the hard questions, none of them compare to knowing God, personally. Until God shows up, the answers are only hollow and abstract.
That all changes when God shows up!
God is not far from any one of us (Acts 17:27); rather we are far from God in our hearts. God knows us intimately (Psalm 139), but we do not know Him.
If you are reading this, today is the day to seek God. (2 Corinthians 6:2) You are not promised tomorrow.
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)
There is no perspective greater than God’s perspective. When God shows up in our lives, we begin to see the world through God’s eyes. And that makes all the difference!
If you are interested in some more modern seekers who encountered God, you might like Journies of Faith.