It is easy to criticize God. But it is impossible for us to fully understand God and God’s ways. How arrogant of people to believe that we can question and reprimand God!
I have some vivid memories of being a child. I remember one instance when I ran across our very quiet street without looking. The adult I was with yelled at me for not looking before crossing. But I knew exactly what the neighborhood sounded like. I could hear cars coming before they came anywhere near our house. In my mind I did look before I crossed – I “looked” with my ears. But now that I am an adult I understand the wisdom in using my ears and my eyes before I cross the street. I’ve seen and learned enough to know that even the most diligent people sometimes get into accidents, and wisdom dictates caution. At the time I thought the adult was just ignorant. But now I know that it was me who was ignorant.
Just a simple example of how easy it is for us to believe God at best ignorant, negligent, or careless; at worst vindictive or even cruel. But we cannot ever know what God knows. Wisdom dictates that we trust in the God that knows all, even when we think we know better. We don’t.
Elihu continued and said: “Bear with me a little, and I will show you, for I have yet something to say on God’s behalf. I will bring my knowledge from far away, and ascribe righteousness to my Maker. For truly my words are not false; one who is perfect in knowledge is with you.
“Surely God is mighty and does not despise any; he is mighty in strength of understanding. He does not keep the wicked alive, but gives the afflicted their right. He does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous, but with kings on the throne he sets them forever, and they are exalted. And if they are bound in fetters and caught in the cords of affliction, then he declares to them their work and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly. He opens their ears to instruction, and commands that they return from iniquity. If they listen, and serve him, they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness. But if they do not listen, they shall perish by the sword, and die without knowledge.
“The godless in heart cherish anger; they do not cry for help when he binds them. They die in their youth, and their life ends in shame. He delivers the afflicted by their affliction, and opens their ear by adversity. He also allured you out of distress into a broad place where there was no constraint, and what was set on your table was full of fatness.
“But you are obsessed with the case of the wicked; judgment and justice seize you. Beware that wrath does not entice you into scoffing, and do not let the greatness of the ransom turn you aside. Will your cry avail to keep you from distress, or will all the force of your strength? Do not long for the night, when peoples are cut off in their place. Beware! Do not turn to iniquity; because of that you have been tried by affliction. See, God is exalted in his power; who is a teacher like him? Who has prescribed for him his way, or who can say, ‘You have done wrong’?
“Remember to extol his work, of which mortals have sung. All people have looked on it; everyone watches it from far away. Surely God is great, and we do not know him; the number of his years is unsearchable. For he draws up the drops of water; he distills his mist in rain, which the skies pour down and drop upon mortals abundantly. Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion? See, he scatters his lightning around him and covers the roots of the sea. For by these he governs peoples; he gives food in abundance. He covers his hands with the lightning, and commands it to strike the mark. Its crashing tells about him; he is jealous with anger against iniquity.
“At this also my heart trembles, and leaps out of its place. Listen, listen to the thunder of his voice and the rumbling that comes from his mouth. Under the whole heaven he lets it loose, and his lightning to the corners of the earth. After it his voice roars; he thunders with his majestic voice and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard. God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
“For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth’; and the shower of rain, his heavy shower of rain, serves as a sign on everyone’s hand, so that all whom he has made may know it. Then the animals go into their lairs and remain in their dens. From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn round and round by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. Whether for correction, or for his land, or for love, he causes it to happen.
“Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God. Do you know how God lays his command upon them, and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine? Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of the one whose knowledge is perfect, you whose garments are hot when the earth is still because of the south wind? Can you, like him, spread out the skies, hard as a molten mirror? Teach us what we shall say to him; we cannot draw up our case because of darkness. Should he be told that I want to speak? Did anyone ever wish to be swallowed up?
Now, no one can look on the light when it is bright in the skies, when the wind has passed and cleared them. Out of the north comes golden splendor; around God is awesome majesty. The Almighty—we cannot find him; he is great in power and justice, and abundant righteousness he will not violate. Therefore mortals fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”