For a number of years I taught a course, Christians and Suffering. One of they key points I made from the book of Job was that Job was asking God "why?" but God never answered the "why?" question but rather revealed WHO He was. The answer to our difficult circumstances is never found in an answer to "why?" (think about the parent who loses a child, no ""why?" answer would ever ease their pain). Rather the answer is revealed in knowing, more fully, "Who?" He is. That revelation caused Job to praise God ("I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you") which leads to a more intimate relationship with Him and allows him to pray for His friends, as life began anew, in spite of the fact he had NOT YET been healed of his afflitction.
It was a take on suffering I had not heard quite that way before and was a part of the fullness of the answer to people's questions in the midst of their trials. This truth is one that has changed my life personally and many I have come in contact with. So, today I am reading, The Question That Never Goes Away, Why by Philip Yancey, and I come across this:
"How does the Bible answer such laments? Usually with silence. Job, that unfortunate man who deserved suffering least yet endured it most, finally got his requested audience with God, who responded with his longest recorded speech. Oddly, though, while giving Job a tour of the natural world in magnificent poetry, God never addressed the "Why?" question. In Frederick Buechner's words, "God doesn't explain. He explodes. He asks Job who he thinks he is anyway. He says that to try to explain the kind of t things Job wants explained would be like trying to explain Einstein to a littleneck clam...God doesn't reveal His grand design. He reveals Himself." Then, in a delicious irony, God pronounces that only though Job's advocacy will he listen to the friends who had badgered Job with their condemnatory theology."
I think Buechner has the fact right but the TONE wrong. God's explosion is not from a pompous, superior "who do you think you are, Job?" position, but rather that of a father desperately trying to make his child understand that He is present, aware, involved, caring and able. God doesn't invite our fear to question and that is not what we see in Job's response, he doesn't pull away from God but rather runs toward the only One that can hold together every broken piece and allow life to continue in spite of our tragedy.
Buechner and I have a slightly different take but we both see the same truth as I am sure many, many others do whom I have not encountered yet. How wonderful to know that He has never been silent, but speaking His presence and Truth in the midst of every trial, burden and circumstance from the very first ... evidenced as He asked Adam, "where are you?" asking him to enter into His presence or "who told you were naked" identifying it as something He would never have uttered or as in the perfect act of grace and love, He clothed them - He did not desire them to feel shame, not then and not now.
What's the eternal unchanged truth? His love, at all times in all things. This WHO that loves us, wow!