There are times when God can seem distant and seemingly disinterested about what is happening in our lives. On the ground level, we feel all alone. We are muttering and sputtering through life, while God is off fighting battles that seem more important to Him than tending to our business.
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You may want to read:
- Have You Ever Tried Manipulative Praying
- Bringing God Down to My Level So I Can Argue With Him
- The Benefit Of God Being Silent
And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” – 1 Kings 18:27
- Does God care about you?
- Is He paying attention?
You may be tempted to make futile attempts to force His hand through manipulative praying like I was. The truth is that you cannot budge God if He does not want to move, and what He has planned for you will most certainly be brought to pass (2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Philippians 1:6).
But he is unchangeable, and who can turn him back? What he desires, that he does. For he will complete what he appoints for me, and many such things are in his mind. – Job 23:13-14
Other times you may want God to intervene so badly that you do not give careful consideration to what it could be like if He did speak to you. The problem with this scenario is if your thoughts are not His thoughts, you may be in for the shock of your life when He finally gives His assessment about your situation (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Without question, circumstances demand an answer. And the Lord is the only one who knows all the answers. The problem is when you think you know the right answer and demand from Him to weigh-in on your troubles.
Sometimes I think it would be wise to be more cautious and discerning when requesting the Lord to reveal all of His cards to you. I am not suggesting you resign yourself to a twisted, morbid fear of God or to lace your thoughts with an accusation that suggests He is not for you (Romans 8:31).
God is for you. He is on your side. The Lord’s favor on you and pleasure with you is never in doubt. God loves you with an everlasting love, and you cannot, in any way, diminish His affection for you.
What I am suggesting is that you should perceive a wise and careful consideration about how you think about your problems. More than likely whatever you are going through has more contours than you ever imagined.
The Lord is meticulously attentive to your life. He is more attentive to your life than you are. His omniscience allows Him to know every microscopic detail of your inner being (Hebrews 4:12-13), while simultaneously planning every future step and outcome (Proverbs 16:9).
Tread carefully about how you think about your problems. The Lord knows more than you, and He is doing more than you could ever think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). If you are not careful, especially during seasons of suffering, you could develop a self-righteous, grumbling spirit that will cripple what the Lord desires to do in your life.
The Rest Of the Story
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. – Job 38:1-4
The Lord was teaching Job the blessing of not knowing the rest of the story.
- Has it occurred to you how it is not a bad thing to not know the rest of the story?
- How easy is it for you to cast your cares on the Lord, even when life is not going according to your desires?
Job was aware there were many things in the Lord’s mind for him, and he knew God would bring those ideas to pass (Job 23:13-14). He even admitted how this kind of God-awareness terrified him, to the point of making his heart weak (Job 23:15-16).
Still, yet, our old friend kept pressing for answers and his friends kept offering their counsel. Through it all, God was mysteriously silent.
Like a father listening to his children argue from another room, the Lord sat in all His un-budge-able-ness as the faulty wisdom of His children was being bandied from one to the other (Job 12:2).
Then, in the perfect, though seemingly slow timing of the Lord, He contributed a piece of His mind to Job’s situation (Job 38:1-4).
I must admit this is not what I was expecting from the Lord.
Job was awakened from his wisdom-less “slumber” as counsel from heaven thundered down on his soul. And it only became worse from there. The Lord stood on Job’s “proverbial neck” and did not relent for four contiguous chapters.
God went from silence-to-communication at the speed of sound and the words He selected for His “above reproach” servant was some of the most reliable counsel you will ever hear. Apart from a brief response from Job (Job 40:3-5), the Lord gave one of His most extended counseling monologues in Scripture.
Divine Request to Be Quiet
This monologue is an amazing and mind-bending response from the Counselor to the counselee. It was one very long, rhetorical, mouth-stopping question after another.
It was a Divine request for Job to close his mouth and listen because he was talking way too much. Job’s words had gone from a desire to figure out what was happening to him, to a complaining and grumbling spirit (Deuteronomy 29:29).
The longer you put off fully trusting the Lord, especially when life does not make sense, you will eventually experience transformation into a bitter person (Matthew 6:34). Regardless of your good intentions, the Lord is not required to give you the answers to your most perplexing questions.
His call is for you to trust Him, which is so hard for our modern culture to understand and accept. The expectation of rights and privileges are so numerous that even an inconvenience at a traffic light can send an individual into a whirlwind of frustration.
It amazes me at this point in my walk with the Lord how I still complain about things that should not matter. After a while, it seems as though I would be mature enough to trust the Lord in all things, especially after experiencing Him work in some of the more difficult challenges of my life.
In the space of ten years (1987-1997) I lost two of my brothers through murder, and my wife, two children, job, home, money, and property through divorce. During this time, I brought many requests to the Lord.
I was not always kind, patient, or understanding when I presented my arguments to Him, even though He was still kind, patient, and understanding. He tolerated me. Sometimes I thought He was too patient, which means I thought He was too slow in coming to my side.
Regardless of my immaturity, He was un-moveable, never giving in to seeing things my way. He would allow me to complain while He maintained His position of silence. This posture only irritated me, while pushing me farther down the funnel of depression and discouragement.
Not to be deterred, the more silent He became, the more emboldened I became about my rights, my losses, and my need to know why these things were happening. If He was not going to speak, I maintained a torrid pace of filling up our time together with words.
Then the Lord Spoke
I will never forget the day, during my journey through Job, when I came to chapter thirty-eight, and the Lord finally said something. It was as though God was no longer talking to Job, but He was speaking to me.
Those unrelenting and demanding questions He was asking Job was questions for me. He began to remind me of a few things I had forgotten. My arrogance, coupled with a lack of faith toward His active goodness in my life kept me from seeing all I needed to see.
This time I was silent. After the Lord broke the silence and entered into my whirlwind, it became fearfully apparent how I needed to shut-up, sit-up, and listen. If there was anything to say, it needed to be something like what Job said.
Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further. – Job 40:4-5
Sometimes your complaining may motivate God to respond to you. Beware: this could be a bittersweet experience. If you continue to demand from the Lord to reveal His full mind on your situation, let me ask you this question:
- Do you really want to know what the Lord is thinking?
What Job did not understand was how God could not and would not tell him all he wanted to know. Job could not know there was a deal struck with the devil and how the Lord was testing his faith (Job 1:12).
The point of it all was supposed to be a mystery to Job, because the Lord was teaching him to live by faith rather than by sight (2 Corinthians 4:18; Hebrews 11:27). The Lord cannot and will not tell you the outcome of the events in your life.
If you knew the outcome, you may endure. The problem with your endurance is that your faith would be in the known result, rather than in the Lord Jehovah God. This situation would be contradictory to the first commandment (Exodus 20:3): your faith would not be in God alone.
God is calling you to a place of faith, which is the whole point of the Bible and your life. Trusting God was the point of the story with Adam and Eve–all the Lord asked from them was to believe Him (Genesis 2:16-17).
Put In His Place
Job wanted explanations for his troubles rather than trusting God who was in his problems. The Lord was not going to allow this. Knowing the answers would have put Job on the fast track to self-reliance, rather than trusting God (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). But Job would not shut his mouth.
Job’s ongoing bitterness and complaining motivated God to bring clarity to the situation. Job received what he wanted, but it was not what he was expecting. The Lord put him in his place.
The Lord said, in a loud and relentless way, that there was only one option: trust Me! God was entirely in charge of the situation and Job needed to trust Him. There is no counter-argument. You either believe the Lord through your circumstances, or you suffer the consequences. If you try to manhandle your problems your way, the Lord will be against you (James 4:6).
The good news for Job is that he listened. Job received the message loud and clear. He became quiet. He put his hand over his mouth. He stopped complaining. After the Lord spoke, there was nothing more to say.
What You Can Learn
Hopefully, you can learn from our old friend. There is wisdom from Job’s story that you should be able to apply to your life practically. For example, though the Lord spoke, it did not change Job’s circumstance one iota. God did not speak because He wanted to improve Job’s situation. He talked to change Job.
You will eventually see how God changed Job’s heart (Job 42:5-6). You will also see how the Lord transformed his circumstances (Job 42:10), but a situational improvement was not the point of God’s counsel at this point.
I cannot think of a time in my life when I fully knew why I was going through a particular trial. Reflecting back, I can see how knowing the why was not the most important thing the Lord wanted to reveal to me.
The most important thing to learn was how He was with me and would never let me go no matter how hard things became. If you can learn this one lesson, you will become a mature Christian, even if your circumstances never change.
Do you really want to know what the Lord is thinking? If so, I suggest you put on your seatbelt because God’s words might not go like you hoped, especially if you have been critical, grumbling, or faithless.
Also published on Medium.