Out of the Whirlwind

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God appeared out of a whirlwind to a despondent Job.

The story of Job is tear-jerker. Once a happy and wealthy man, Job loses everything he values and cherishes, including his children. As the story moves along, Job is “comforted” by three friends who basically assert that Job has offended God in some way and that his losses are the consequence. Their comfort was not comforting at all.

The friend Bildad goes into a long treatise telling Job he should repent and all will be well. In the midst of his speech, he says to Job that God will fill his mouth with shouts of joy. (Job 8:21)

If only life were that easy and predictable. Job was a righteous man, says the Bible. His enormous misfortune was not his fault, and there was no simple way for him to recover all that he had lost. There was no magic bullet, no divine formula designed to fix everything and get him back on solid footing.

The reality is that tragedy hovers over this righteous man and changes his good life into a nightmare. Job loses everything — children, property and wealth, good name and even his health.

Job desperately tries to solve the mystery behind his suffering. He struggles, looking for clues. Job prays expectantly. God will surely speedily intervene in his life — heal him of his disease and explain to him what in the world is going on. But nothing happens. The horribly painful disease reduces Job’s strength. He grows weaker and weaker. He becomes more confused.

Job’s language sometimes borders on the irrational and incoherent. At times he appears almost delirious. Job appeals to God to act before it is too late. At times he even challenges God. Please help me, he cries. Come to me quickly. “I will soon lie down in the dust,” Job cries out, “you will search for me, but I will be no more” (Job 7:21).

Job can only assume God is persecuting him, hiding from him. He lashes out at God in pain and anguish. “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of men? Why have you made me your target?” Job complains (Job 7:20).

Job’s terrible discouragement, his lashing out at God is not caused because he has lost his faith in God. In fact, Job hangs on to his belief in God through it all. Job knows that somewhere in the universe God must be alive. “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him,” Job cries out in despairing belief (Job 13:15). Still trusting in God, Job insists, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25).

Job’s story is for those of us who have experienced grave losses, yet are willing to work with God who has the power to restore us to joy. The story is not for those of us who lose our faith. It is for those who hang on to faith in spite of every trouble. The story is for those of us who trust God enough to present our complaints and our frustration honestly.

Job had the courage to question God and God answered Job out of the whirlwind.
(Job 38:1),

Job became convinced of God’s infinite wisdom. Job learned that there was a purpose for his suffering — God’s purpose — and that was enough for him. The mighty voice of God thundering out of the whirlwind puts everything into perspective for Job. It says: God is alive; God is here; God cares; God is capable.

if you find yourself in a place of grief and loss, trust God enough to question what has happened. Perhaps a whirlwind will appear for you.

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