1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
9 when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It is changed like clay under the seal,
and its features stand out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
and their uplifted arm is broken.
16 “Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.
They had two daughters, but you really needed to use the past tense there. Uncontrolled diabetes had claimed the elder a few years before I met them. The second was a beloved teacher and lovely young woman. She had two children, a happy marriage. All was going so well. Until one evening her husband came home to find her lying on the floor. The ambulance came. The emergency room team tried their best. The worst happened. Their other daughter died, at almost the same age as the first.
It made no sense. How could one family suffer such loss? Job felt that way too and he asked the questions that everyone who goes through such tragedies asks. How could this have happened? Finally, Job, who was a righteous man, thought that God was being unfair. Out of a whirlwind God spoke these words to his servant. Where were you when…? This chapter of Job is a great catalogue of what God did. Clearly Genesis 1 and 2 have left out a few things, but in this the Bible is unanimous: God made this world in all its beauty and splendor. It is his world and He gets to do with it as He sees fit.
That can be hard to hear and it can be hard to bear. Our world has invested a great deal into telling us that we are the masters of our destiny. Technology and medicine and much more have allowed us to insulate ourselves from some reality. The recent pandemic brought a brutal truth home to us. We are not so in control as we want to be. This is when the story of Job needs it context. Turn in your Bible to Psalm 121, it is not far away from this passage. The psalmist lifts his eyes to the hills. Where does his help come from? It comes from the Lord who watches over our coming and going from this day forth and forevermore. His watchful and loving eye does not slumber nor sleep. When the world reminds you that you are not in control and makes you feel small and helpless, we need those words of Psalm 121 which were likely first spoken to us in our baptism. The same Lord who powerfully created and exquisitely designed this whole universe has his loving eye on you.