A Whirlwind of Counsel (Just A Minute #111)

Andy Bonikowsky
Written by Andy Bonikowsky

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. (Job 38:1-3)

That sure seems like a strange way to address a man who is in intense suffering.

Usually the advice we hear for dealing with hurting people encourages tenderness and sympathy. We can all envision the hospital visitor who is loud and obnoxious or the nervous friend who doesn't quite know what to say and ends up giving poor advice, speaking nonsense, or parroting hollow clichés. Now none of this inappropriate behavior can remotely be attributed to the Wonderful Counselor. However, I do think we would all have expected God to treat Job more delicately.

But He didn't.

God jumped abruptly into the scene via something like a tornado, demanding Job's attention, and that of every thoughtful reader. Then, as if the sudden appearance wasn't shocking enough, the pain stricken man from Uz must have been stunned at what he heard. The first words out of the whirlwind were an accusation of ignorance and incompetence!

As I read the passage my reaction is to sort of blink and stare at the text, wondering why the Lord would be so rough on this poor victim of Satan's rage.

So what could it mean? Why would the Lord treat Job this way?

I believe He wants us to take a closer look at our attitudes and conversations in suffering. It is true that God is God and we are simply peers. That changes much of the formula and we cannot adopt His position entirely. But I think there is still much we can learn from this unusual exchange between Jehovah and His suffering servant.

Through a series of blunt questions and a list of examples from nature God goes on to establish one very basic fact. He is the Creator and Governor of everything, and deserves a default level of respect far beyond what Job was giving.

Could anybody possibly deny that the man was suffering deeply? God, of course, knew His agony better than anyone. But He also heard what Job had told his friends. The Lord noticed the attitude that had settled into Job's heart.

And He was not pleased.

It was good that Job had not cursed God, nor blasphemed His Name. His commitment to purity was remarkable and his patience in even responding to so much hogwash from his friends was admirable.

But he had begun to demand an audience with the Almighty, as if he had arguments that would change the Lord's mind or set Him straight. Slowly he came to believe that somehow God had gone too far in his case.

At some point he crossed the line and a spiraling wind began to blow.

May God give us the wisdom to realize that at any moment He can interrupt our pain, which He allowed in the first place. He does not appreciate our words if they do not acknowledge Him as having a perfect and good reason for what hurts.

Dear Father, it is so important to understand that even along the path of suffering there are traps into which we can fall. Help me learn from Your whirlwind discourse, both for personal victory as well as profitable counseling of those in pain. Amen.