Job 38 is quite an amazing passage. God is challenging Job, after Job’s extended protest and appeal to Him. God presents Job with a series of questions; I’ll focus on three.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much.
Job has been pleading with God, proclaiming his innocence and trying to understand. In this question, God points Job back to the beginning, asking him if he knows the basic truths that drive the universe.
33 Do you know the laws of the universe?
Can you use them to regulate the earth?
As a scientist, I seek to understand the laws of the universe. How do things work? My particular focus is on how proteins function in our cells. The thing that strikes me in this quote is the second question. It is a very large step to move from understanding the principles that guide the universe, to using those laws to regular life on earth. As a chemist, I might say that is a quantum leap. So Job is left to stand before God and to listen to God’s challenge. I wonder what was going through his mind, between the fear of God and his keen awareness of his present suffering.
In Paul’s writing in II Corinthians 4, he addresses suffering again, from a Christian (and eternal) perspective.
16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Paul dismissed his current troubles as small, yet we know that he encountered enormous difficulties in life. To him, they were small when compared to the eternal hope that awaited him – things that cannot be seen now. He was able to persevere because of the hope that he embraced.
Thinking back on Job, he also persevered. He trusted God with his whole life, though he struggled mightily with his suffering and loss and was honest with God and his friends about that struggle.