When God Doesn't Answer Our Questions

Asking God "why" is probably one of the more common themes of the Christian life. We've all probably been there. After the big, much deserved promotion goes to another rather than us, we ask God "why?". When we miss out on another opportunity to fulfill the dream we have always held, we ask God "why?". But maybe your circumstance is more severe. When a child dies, a baby is lost, a loved one suffers for years with a debilitating illness only to succumb to death in the end, through tears we ask God "why?". It all seems so senseless.

Job was no stranger to suffering. And he also was no stranger to asking God "why?". Job is often seen as a test case for understanding suffering. His friends failed miserably in their attempts to help him, and we are taught that this is definitely NOT the way to respond to a suffering person. It's true. But if you read through to the end of the book, when God shows up he focused a lot more on Job than on the friends. Yes, he rebukes the friends in the end, but Job gets the bulk of his discourse. And in all of the words that God breathes out to Job in these chapters, he never once says "and this is the reason why I afflicted you."

While Job is never told why he suffered, he is given something greater--a matured relationship with God. By the end of the book Job sees God in new ways and he falls on his face before him (Job 42). The point of God answering Job in the whirlwind is not that he would have all of his questions answered, but that he would get a bigger view of the God who is over it all. As far as the text tells us, Job never knows of the scenario between God and Satan. He never knows that his story is serving a purpose in God's plan to exalt himself and silence Satan. But by the end, when God shows up, it doesn't really matter. The very presence of God revealing himself to Job is enough to make him repent and resign himself to God's perfect will (Job 42:2-5).

We may never know the reason why we suffer. Sometimes we get little glimpses of God's purposes in our suffering; most of the time we don't. But we will always get what our souls most need--a deeper relationship with God. Suffering strips us of ourselves until all that is left is a broken, humble person. It is then where we can see God for who he is. Majestic. Other. Perfect. Holy. All together good. And that is better than knowing 10,000 reasons for our suffering.

God was just as concerned with Job's refinement as he was with rebuking Job's friends. In the midst of our deepest sorrows God is working. And even if we are never given an answer to our tear-filled questions, we can trust that God will show up and give us what we need more than anything else--namely, himself.