Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
The Bible never tries to sugarcoat reality or hide the heartaches that come with living. No matter how holy we may be, never will we forever bask in the sunlight of easy living. In this life, there will be some good times and some rough times.
It is true that troubles don’t last always, but then, neither does the good times. Easy living and trouble free days, these too shall pass. Even the Godly suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune.
The bible tells us that there was a man in the land of Uz, named Job. He was well acquainted with abundance and he basked in bountiful blessings.
He had prosperity, good health and easy living. But, these things did not last always. Friday’s fun turned into Saturday’s blues. Fat bank accounts turned into financial ruin. A lovely family turned into yesterday’s fond memory.
Job knew something about life turning upside down. He was hit by a convergence, a meeting of numerous troubles and catastrophes all at once; in a word, a whirlwind swept into his life.
Seeing that we will all be caught up in the whirlwinds of life, like Job; come, let us learn something from Job. The first thing that we learn is the simple, undeniable, and inescapable fact that life is filled with so much uncertainty. There are some things in life that you just can’t plan for and some things you just can’t avoid. We just don’t know what tomorrow may bring.
Just ask Job! He can tell you about the uncertainty of life in this world of ups and downs.
In one day, the cattle, the wealth, the riches of Job were snatched away. Job, the righteous, had lost all he had worked so hard for. But, life got worse. After his cattle and his wealth were gone, word came that a mighty wind fell upon the house where his children were celebrating and they were all killed. For Job, like for many of us, things went from bad to worse.
Cattle, all gone. Children, all dead. How much more could this man take? I believe that Job felt that one more calamity would be more than he could handle. One more piece of bad news would be more than he could bear. One more bad doctor report would be the last straw. One more threat of losing a Job would be enough to send him over the deep end.
One more encounter with the dark side of reality could break his spirits and crush his faith. Job lost all that was near and dear to him. Surely, life could get no worse.
But, just as he was coping, trying to deal with the mess that had become his life, things got worse. Now, it was his own health that went south. His health went from excellent condition to critical condition, from bad to worse.
And, I am sure that we all have had Job experiences in our lives, where all that could go wrong goes terribly wrong.
Our phone rings and on the other end is a crying voice telling us that Momma is dead, Daddy has gone on to glory, husband has slipped away into eternity, wifey has passed on to the other side. And, like Job, we feel like we cannot go on another day; but, somehow, we endure. Somehow we press on. Somehow we survive. In a world of uncertainty and anguish, the second fact of our lesson today comes to the surface.
In the face of uncertainty and trials, we find that we really have far more strength than we ever realized before. We, like Job, we find within ourselves the amazing capacity, or ability, to endure unspeakable, unimaginable horror and hardship.
The fact is, my beloved, we don’t really know how strong God has made us, until circumstances try to break us. We don’t know how much strength we have until we are confronted with pain and loss and the unknown. We don’t really know how strong we are until the whirlwinds are at their worst.
Like the tea bag never gives of its full strength until it is in hot water, the child of God never knows his or her full strength until troubles rise and life is hard. In the midst of searing and sizzling trials, we find out that we have more strength than we ever realized before.
In the story of Job, and in the story of our own lives, we discover through death and destruction, chaos and confusion, we discover through setbacks and sickness, we discover through the whirlwinds that blow havoc into our lives, we discover the amazing, God-given, human capacity to survive in spite of the worst that life sends our way.
Remember the time when you were ready to give up? Do you remember the time when you were sure you could not go on another day? But somehow, some way, you made it.
Other folk thought it was all over, but you hung in there. Some folk thought you had come to the end of the rope, but you held on anyhow. Some folk thought one more problem would defeat you, but you survived.
I used to wonder, how it is that we can survive so much pain. I used to wonder how it is that we could handle so much heartache and adversity. I used to wonder how it is that folk could deal with so much sorrow.
I used to wonder how in the world do we mere mortals keep on rising up off of the trash heap of life. I used to wonder how we manage to survive the violent, turbulent, disruptive whirlwinds that sweep into our lives without rhyme or reason.
But, I don’t have to wonder anymore. For, I have found the answer in the third point of this sermon. I found out like Job, that there is a God who dwells in the whirlwinds of our lives!
Notice, if you will, Job 38:1 says that God answered Job from the whirlwind. But, in order for God to speak from the whirlwind, God has got to be in the whirlwind. Oh my Lord, I’m so glad that God is in the whirlwind.
I’m so glad that God doesn’t always speak in a still small voice like He did with Elijah on the mountain. I’m so glad that it isn’t always beside the still waters, that God speaks. I’m so glad that it isn’t only when I am still and life is calm that God speaks.
For, our lives are not always smooth and calm. But, sometimes, there are some violent storms. Sometimes there are some troubles deep. Sometimes there are some heavy heartaches. Sometimes there is some death. Sometimes, there is some sickness.
Sometimes there is some bankruptcy. Sometimes there are some wayward children. Sometimes there are some whirlwinds turning our lives up side down and I am so glad, that our God is in the whirlwind, speaking from the whirlwind.
But, I would not have you to be ignorant, my beloved, regarding the God who speaks from the whirlwind. From the whirlwind, God doesn’t always answer the way we want.
When all hell has broken loose in our lives, when sickness is most severe, when problems are most persistent, we want God to tell us why all this suffering. We want God to tell us when these old troubles will let us be. We want to hear from God the reason behind all of our struggles and sorrow. This is what we want. But, God has been known to be silent in the face of our deepest cries.
Truth be told, God never really answered Job’s questions. God never tells Job why his children died or why his wealth vanished or why his body was sore afflicted. Job asked, but God was forever silent on the issue. Yet, Job kept on asking.
Many times we can’t help but to ask God for some kind of an answer to all that we are going through. And, I suggest to you today that it’s alright to ask God about some of this stuff we have to deal with. It’s alright to ask God why we have to always face so many mountains when we are just trying to make heaven our home. It’s alright to ask God why we have to endure so much loss and sorrow.
After all, if Jesus, the son of the living God, if Jesus, could cry from the depths of his soul, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” then surely you and I can ask God for some kind of an answer, some kind of an explanation to these things that are so painful and confusing.
For thirty-seven chapters Job was perplexed by his problems. He was questioning his quandary. Job was seeking some kind of an audience with the almighty so that he might make some sense out of the senseless. He’s seeking an answer from God in the midst of the whirlwind that is now his life. Yet, for thirty-seven chapters, God has been silent.
Oh sure, there has been a whole lot of folk trying to rationalize away Jobs problems. To be sure a whole lot of folk tried to explain to Job why he was sore afflicted.
You will always find folk, sometime well-meaning and sometimes not, who will try to tell you why you are facing so much adversity. They’ll tell you that there must be some reason to all this madness because everything happens for a reason.
They’ll tell you that you ought to just be grateful that things aren’t worse. Folk will say all manner of foolishness because they just don’t know what to say in the face of the unexplainable and the seemingly unbearable.
Job was seeking answers and everybody from his wife on down had something to say, but God was silent. Oh, how painful is the silence of God.
When life has knocked us for a loop, we want to hear from the Lord. When burdens are beating us down, we want to hear from God. When sickness is threatening to make us a young widow or widower, we want to hear from God.
When we never had a baby to worry about or a spouse to fuss about and this fact leaves us with a broken heart that refuses to heal, we want to hear from God. But, when life is at its hardest, sometimes that is precisely the time that God chooses to be silent for far too long.
Job wasn’t patient. For thirty-seven chapters he was seeking God, inquiring of God and pleading with God. When life is at its darkest, we are seldom passive, quiet church mice. No! We ask is there any word from the Lord! Job wanted an answer from God!
But, see here my beloved people. Nowhere in the whole book of Job does God explain to Job the intricate details of his suffering and his afflictions. God never offers any explanation at all. Rather, God just makes himself known, in the midst of Job’s suffering. God just shows himself in the midst of the whirlwind.
Yes, God has been silent a mighty long time. But here Job sees, and we see, that silent though God is sometimes, God is still present. If little else, Job teaches us that in the final analysis, we can trust the Lord our God. When God is silent and the strong winds are raging, we can still trust in the Lord. We can trust his mercy even when we can’t trace his movements. We can trust his grace, even when we can’t see his face.
Through the whirlwind, Job found out that God is faithful. Even while the whirlwind was whipping Job to-and-fro like a rag-doll, Job learned that God was still God and God was still present. Therefore, Job learned to trust God with his today and tomorrow. Job declared, “Though you slay me, yet will I trust you!”
And that’s when Job finally got in line for a mighty blessing. When Job accepted the fact that there are just some things in life that he would never understand; when he decided that he was just going to trust God and praise God and serve God, because of or in spite of circumstances, that’s when God opened the windows of heaven and poured out a blessing that he couldn’t even contain, count or calculate.
God gave to Job twice as much as he had when he first started out. The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than the first days of Job. He had ten more children, fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand oxen and donkeys.
Oh, when you trust God, you just don’t know what rich blessings are in store for you. When you come to depend on God and trust God in spite of circumstance and condition, you might well just get ready to be blessed. Get ready for miracles. Get ready for deliverance.
The Lord is in all our situations, working it out for our good. We can endure the whirlwind today, for the Lord our God is in the midst of the whirlwind.
God is in the whirlwind to bring us through tragedy to triumph. He’s in the whirlwind to deliver us from grief to glory. He’s there to transform our problems into praise. He’s there to change our burdens into blessings. God’s in the whirlwind to turn our tests into a testimony.
In the middle of your whirlwind, if you trust and never doubt, he will surely bring you out. Take your burdens and your brokenness to the Lord. Take your pain and problems to the Lord. Take your sorrow, your hurts, your fears take them to the Lord who is in the whirlwinds and leave them there. Trust him and never doubt him.
Trust and never doubt, and he will surely, surely, surely, bring you out.
Rev. Clarence W. Davis is the pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A frequent contributor to BlackandChristian.com, Davis earned a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology degree from Harvard Divinity School and is currently a student in the joint Ph.D. program at the University of Denver and Illiff School of Theology.
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Used by permission, BlackandChristian.com, 2007