While Job is cursing his life and his friend is blaming him, God is not silent. God responds to Job’s lament by reminding him of all the ways God is, has been, and will be there for him. Even though there is suffering, there is no suffering that will cause God to abandon.
When I was in college, stress and depression plagued me. Whenever the pain became too unbearable I would take a trip to the mall. (Ok, some of you prefer the lake, the ocean, the mountains to seek evidence of God… I preferred to be surrounded by people.) I would sit and watch the people go by. I would imagine what their lives might be like. That soccer mom had kids that laughed and cried and made messes. That business man was stopping off to buy something expensive for his wife. That couple have been married for 50 years and are taking a trip to Cancun to celebrate. By immersing myself in the imagined worlds of other people, my own problems started to seem irrelevant. What did that teenage hot dog server care about my grades? What did that mall cop care about my relationship troubles? Nothing. It made me realize that the world did not revolve around the problems and solutions of my life. The world spun with or without my problems. It helped me to remember that I had a choice – to let my problems bury me, or to surrender my problems and build the life that I desired. To trust that God would not abandon me despite my problems. To know that God would walk with me on any life path I chose. That God is bigger than all of it – God was here long before I got here and will be here long after I leave. It helps me feel small, and the small makes me feel safe. Certainly a God that big is bigger than my ick.
“Call now; is there anyone who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn? Surely vexation kills the fool, and jealousy slays the simple. I have seen fools taking root, but suddenly I cursed their dwelling. Their children are far from safety, they are crushed in the gate, and there is no one to deliver them. The hungry eat their harvest, and they take it even out of the thorns; and the thirsty pant after their wealth. For misery does not come from the earth, nor does trouble sprout from the ground; but human beings are born to trouble just as sparks fly upward.
“As for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause. He does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number. He gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields; he sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He takes the wise in their own craftiness; and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end. They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope at noonday as in the night. But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth, from the hand of the mighty. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.
“How happy is the one whom God reproves; therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he strikes, but his hands heal. He will deliver you from six troubles; in seven no harm shall touch you. In famine he will redeem you from death, and in war from the power of the sword. You shall be hidden from the scourge of the tongue, and shall not fear destruction when it comes. At destruction and famine you shall laugh, and shall not fear the wild animals of the earth. For you shall be in league with the stones of the field, and the wild animals shall be at peace with you. You shall know that your tent is safe, you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing. You shall know that your descendants will be many, and your offspring like the grass of the earth. You shall come to your grave in ripe old age, as a shock of grain comes up to the threshing floor in its season. See, we have searched this out; it is true. Hear, and know it for yourself.”