What a great question, “Can a mortal be of use to God?” All my life I was raised to believe in a God that is infallible, omnipotent, and eternal. That meant that God knew all things and only ever acted with complete perfection. As I grew older I started to see that understanding of God as quite binary. Either God knows all things or God does not. Either God is perfect or God is not. Honestly, this line of thinking led me to believe in a God that was, well, boring. A perfect God has no room for learning and growing (a human characteristic I find immensely appealing! – and we were created in God’s image, were we not?). An all-knowing God is never surprised, disappointed, delighted, or engaged in the minute-by-minute unpredictable nature of humanity.
No, I’ve come to believe in a God that chooses to step into our timeline, sits on the edge of God’s seat as we make our choices, and is delighted or disappointed billions of times each day. I like to think of God as knowing all the possibilities of our choices and the outcomes, but does not know exactly what paths we choose until we choose them. I think God doesn’t know whether a person will be healed until healing occurs or does not. We have so much to do with how this world turns out. Even God cannot heal a bullet wound without the loving, persistent care of the medical professionals that God called and equipped. God cannot heal a broken relationship unless both parties respond to God’s call to patience and understanding, and make a commitment to work hard on the relationship. God cannot end a war without the wise leaders that respond to God’s call to compromise and peace.
So – can a mortal be of use to God? God needs us. Maybe that’s why we were created. Maybe God needed to have hands and feet on the ground so that God could be anticipating, surprised, delighted, and loved.
Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered: “Can a mortal be of use to God? Can even the wisest be of service to him? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous, or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless? Is it for your piety that he reproves you, and enters into judgment with you?
“Is not your wickedness great? There is no end to your iniquities. For you have exacted pledges from your family for no reason, and stripped the naked of their clothing. You have given no water to the weary to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry. The powerful possess the land, and the favored live in it. You have sent widows away empty-handed, and the arms of the orphans you have crushed. Therefore snares are around you, and sudden terror overwhelms you, or darkness so that you cannot see; a flood of water covers you. “Is not God high in the heavens? See the highest stars, how lofty they are! Therefore you say, ‘What does God know? Can he judge through the deep darkness? Thick clouds enwrap him, so that he does not see, and he walks on the dome of heaven.’
“Will you keep to the old way that the wicked have trod? They were snatched away before their time; their foundation was washed away by a flood. They said to God, ‘Leave us alone,’ and ‘What can the Almighty do to us?’ Yet he filled their houses with good things— but the plans of the wicked are repugnant to me. The righteous see it and are glad; the innocent laugh them to scorn, saying, ‘Surely our adversaries are cut off, and what they left, the fire has consumed.’
“Agree with God, and be at peace; in this way good will come to you. Receive instruction from his mouth, and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored, if you remove unrighteousness from your tents, if you treat gold like dust, and gold of Ophir like the stones of the torrent-bed, and if the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver, then you will delight yourself in the Almighty, and lift up your face to God. You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will pay your vows. You will decide on a matter, and it will be established for you, and light will shine on your ways. When others are humiliated, you say it is pride; for he saves the humble. He will deliver even those who are guilty; they will escape because of the cleanness of your hands.”