Too Much to Say

Sometimes when people are nervous or afraid they talk too much.

Some people don’t let not knowing anything about the situation stop them having plenty to say.

Sometimes we just feel the need to fill a space with something to say.

At times our need for explanation leads us to say the most ridiculous things.

We like nice tidy answers.  We like there to be reasons – cause and effect – but there are things that we do not know.

Job 38:1-7

The Lord Speaks

From Out of a Storm

38 From out of a storm,
the Lord said to Job:
Why do you talk so much
when you know so little?
Now get ready to face me!
Can you answer
the questions I ask?
How did I lay the foundation
for the earth?
Were you there?
Doubtless you know who decided
its length and width.
What supports the foundation?
Who placed the cornerstone,
    while morning stars sang,
and angels rejoiced?

Job and his friends are caught up in a storm.

His friends, as ever, have plenty to say.  Having asked Job if he is sure he really is innocent (chapter 35) (with friends like that…),Elihu reminds Job that God does always do right, that he cares about everyone and makes fair decisions (chapter 36).  But to Elihu this means good people prosper and if something bad is happening to you then you have obviously done something wrong.  He even goes as far as to say, “Hard times and trouble are God’s way of getting our attention!” (36:15)

To which God replies,

Poppycock

or something similar.  How they have failed to understand God and his ways.  They know so little and yet say so much.

God is the one who made the earth and the way it’s intricacies work together.  He knows what is happening and why.  We will never comprehend it, and so shouldn’t be speculating, or pontificating that we do.  We most certainly shouldn’t be making people feel bad if they are having a rough time.

When someone is suffering, do we even hint that it might be their own fault?  Because that’s not how God sees it.

Have we hurt people by trying to explain away what is happening  in the reality of their lives? Wanting to put a nice Christian veneer on it?

Do we sometimes speak without really knowing what we’re saying?

Do we try to put words in God’s mouth?  Or put actions on him that are not his?

We will probably never understand why some things happen in the way they do while we are living in this world.  Sometimes we have to live with the messiness and pain, and put it on “the list” of questions.  And I think we have to be honest about that, and not try to explain away things that we don’t know.  That doesn’t mean we don’t try to grapple with what God is doing, but we have to acknowledge that we are not God and so do not always know his mind, and not think we necessarily have it all sussed.  Sometimes life is messy.  It can be more honest, and useful, to stand with others in their confusion and pain, than to explain it away.  We are called to stand in faith and truth, and sometimes that means saying

I don’t know,

but it also means relying on the God who does.

  • What would you say to Job?
  • How would you answer God?

Dear God,

there are so many things I don’t understand.

Things that happen that seem wrong,

pain that seems unhelpful,

struggle for those who don’t deserve it,

injustices that seem able to carry on.

But I thank you

that I do not hold the world in my hands,

but you do,

and you hold the entire picture.

So hold me in my struggles,

when I don’t understand why.

And equip me to stand with others

in their questions,

that we may hold on to you,

and your infinite wisdom.

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