Imagine, for a moment, what life would be like without a “word.” Imagine walking into a new school without a class schedule, a map, or an idea where the cafeteria is located. Imagine starting a new job when your manager didn’t explain fully the expectations of the role or how you can be successful or that on Fridays everyone wears sweatpants to the office. Imagine moving to a new city and having no one to tell you which part of town to live in, where to buy groceries, or where the closest park is. Imagine life without a word, and now imagine life without a word from God.
It’s aimless. Purposeless. Directionless. And very, very lonely.
This is the reality for many of us, not only because many don’t believe God has left us a word, but also because many others claim He has and yet live like He hasn’t. Think, for a minute, about how often as Christians we make some version of this statement:
“I just God would tell me…”
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve never had God sky write me a message about what house to live in or spell out the name of the right job in my alphabet soup. So it’s not as if every decision we have to make it absolutely clear. But neither is it the case that God has not spoken. He has spoken, and His Word stands.
God has not left us without a word.
And yet God has not told us everything. We are, it seems, on a “need to know” basis, and that can be unsatisfying. It certainly was for Job.
Job, who was stricken with all kinds of suffering. Job, who lost everything. Job, who wondered more than any of us, “Why?” Job, who went on a quest for answers. He sought understanding – the mysterious “Why” behind his troubles. He wasn’t content with the explanations of his friends, and pressed into God asking the hard questions most of us shy away from. Chapter after chapter we find Job asking this question. He was seeking a word from God.
In Job 38 God started talking back. He answered Job out of a whirlwind, which must have been more than a little disconcerting. But after these thirty-seven chapters of accusations, questions, and pain, the answer God gave was not the “Why?” Job was looking for. It was the “Who” he wasn’t.
For the next four chapters, God talked about . . . Himself. He talked about His power and His creativity. He talked about His wisdom and His justice. And He reminded Job that he, as a human, possessed none of those qualities in comparison to the Almighty. Never once did God crack the door of eternity and say, “See, this whole thing started when Satan came walking in here. . . .” Never once did He take Job into the future to show him the good that would come from his struggle. Never once did He reveal the way He would redeem Job’s pain. Never did God show Job one of the billions of Bibles that would be printed in the future, all containing his story. Not one single answer to Job’s specific questions. Just descriptions of Himself.
While that may seem unsatisfying on our end, to know that God doesn’t offer answers or promise a glimpse “on the inside,” we’ve got to ask ourselves the question: Would knowing why really help? I suspect the answer is “no”. “Why” doesn’t bring back the lost time. “Why” doesn’t gather up the tears we’ve shed. “Why” doesn’t make the ache go away. “Why” doesn’t help with the anxiety of the future.
But “Who” does. And that’s the word that we have.
The Bible is not necessarily the answer to all the great “why’s” of life; but it is the answer to the great “Who” of creation. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself. And God is the “who” rather than the “what” that we ultimately need to know. God is the redeemer of moments small and large. God gathers up our tears and holds them in His hands. God is the healer of the soul. God is the caretaker of the future. Who helps tremendously in ways that why never could.
Yes, Christian, we are on a need to know basis. And God knows what we need to know. More than anything else, what we need to know is Him.
That’s what Job’s three friends were missing. It’s incredibly ironic that in their attempt to protect God from Job’s questions, they were actually trying to force their friend to settle for something less than the end of his questions. They were pushing him toward logic and reason, and while that has its place, in cases like this what we need isn’t logic and reason. What the hurting person needs more than anything else is God.
You may not have what you want to know but you have what you need to know. Although God could have left us to squander on our own, He did not. He chose to communicate with us. And He even went further than giving us His book; He gave us Himself. As we dig into the written Word of God, we find ourselves coming alongside the Living Word of God. And that’s where true life resides.