As a young teenager, Ashley believed she was fat, ugly, and worthless, and she developed anorexia. She recorded in her journal, “Has God given up on me? . . . Why did God make me like this?” At a Christian camp, a counselor told Ashley how to view herself as wonderfully made by God, and she embraced Christ and began to submit her eating to the Lord. Instead of questioning God, she now praises Him for His work in her life.
We all have moments when our hearts cry out, “Why, God? What are You doing?” Jesus himself cried on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46; cf. Ps. 22:1). The book of Job provides one of God’s longest answers to this plea.
Our passage follows Job’s suffering and the vastly unhelpful speeches of his friends. In chapter 9, Job acknowledged the challenge of bringing his complaint before God: “Even if I summoned him and he responded, I do not believe he would give me a hearing. He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason” (9:16–17; see Job 9:1–10:22).
God did respond, and in Job 38 through 41, He referred back to Job’s earlier laments (see 9:9; 38:31), demonstrating that He had heard Job’s cries. Ultimately, though, God answered Job by saying, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (38:4). Or, When you create your own world, get back to me with your questions! In comparison to the eternal Creator of the world, Job didn’t have much life experience, as God sarcastically noted: “Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!” (38:21).
What do we make of this response to Job’s pain? First, God didn’t give Job an explanation, but He did provide a context for prayer: God is God, and we are not. But though He is the all–powerful Creator, He also has compassion. Unlike Job’s assumption, God did not crush him or multiply his wounds. Rather, He restored his wealth and relationships. Even in the darkest trial, He is still full of compassion (see Lam. 3:22).