Dependence, Faith & Prayer

By Scott Dunham

Job 38:4-7, 39-41

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

    Tell me, if you understand.

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

    Who stretched a measuring line across it?

On what were its footings set,

    or who laid its cornerstone—

while the morning stars sang together

    and all the angels shouted for joy?

…        …        …

“Do you hunt the prey for the lioness

    and satisfy the hunger of the lions

when they crouch in their dens

    or lie in wait in a thicket?

Who provides food for the raven

    when its young cry out to God

    and wander about for lack of food?

            Job was a man of great success in family life, business, and reputation. Then disaster struck and he lost everything. Throughout the book of Job he refuses to blame God, but he does wonder why God would permit such misfortune. God’s response, which I have quoted above, is not what the we might immediately expect. For several chapters God questions Job about how much he really understands about the creation and what happens within it.

            This passage is not easy to grasp because there is no answer given to the questions that God poses. God has no intention of revealing his purposes to Job. And so it is with us as well. We face the constant barrage of bad news that seems to shape this globe: climate change caused by humankind; wars, refugees, and violent hatred on every continent; and now a pandemic caused by a virus that no one knew about. We cast about for answers, often by wondering who is to blame.

            I think that perhaps God’s question is pertinent now: Where were you? Where was I? We cannot point to easy answers for the events of this world, just as we cannot even fully understand ourselves and our own sinful motivations.

            The second set of questions, in verses 39-41 do signal hope. God cares for everything he has created. He feeds the lion and the raven, just as his sun shines on the evil and the good ones (Matthew 5:45). We cannot fathom the detailed goals that God has for creation, or how God will bring good out of the destructive effects of human sin that has ravaged this creation for millennia. What we do know is that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is the trajectory of God’s plans, which are rooted in God’s love and compassion.

            There are three things we need in order to cope with this situation. First, we need to acknowledge that we are dependent on God. Without God we are nothing, and cannot cope at all. God does care about us, just as he cares for all his creatures. That is the message of Job. Second, our faith in Jesus’s life-giving death and resurrection is the substance of coping and living out a proper response to uncertainty. Third, God wants us to pray to him that our faith would transform us into the caring and loving creatures that he wants us to be in this and all situations.

Rev. Scott Dunham grew up in the Grace Community of Faith and serves as the pastor of visitation to seniors and those in hospital.