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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Job 38:1–11

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?—when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped’?” (NRSV)

When I come across these verses, I want to take a deep breath and say, “Holy moly!” The Lord speaks out of the whirlwind. I don’t know what “speaking out of the whirlwind” is like, but I think it would be enough to catch me up short. The Lord speaks out of the whirlwind thirty-eight chapters into Job’s long struggle with grief. The Lord speaks out of the whirlwind after Job has questioned friends and heard patronizing answers about why his life had been filled with such loss. Answers like “Everything happens for a reason” or “God won’t give you anything more than you can bear” or “If you had just prayed harder, or confessed, or quit.”

God finally speaks. God doesn’t explain any of Job’s losses to him. God doesn’t make a rational case for why Job’s life turned out the way it did. God speaks as creator of the universe, the one who laid the foundations of the earth and set boundaries for the seas. “Who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together?” The speech makes me want to say holy moly because I am brought into touch again with the magnificence and awe of our creator.

On one hand, God’s speech from the whirlwind can sound removed, arrogant, and uncaring—except it was this speech that moved Job close to God, as if all the questioning was done and trust in the one who created not only the universe but Job himself could now begin.

Creator of the universe and my creator, make me stop sometimes—stop trying to make everything make sense and instead let me marvel at your creation and the magnificence that is you. Thank you for catching me up short and drawing me closer to you. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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