Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? (Job 38:4).
Until and unless you accept God as more than a curious entity swirling around somewhere in outerspace, you will have warped views about Him, yourself, and this thing called life. This question confronts us with who God is and affirms His sovereign control.
The story of Job confirms he was a righteous man who suffered through the most horrible adversity anyone could possibly endure. Through no fault of his, he lost his health, wealth, children, everything — except his life and angry wife.
Just like we do when in positions of terrible suffering, Job wondered why all the “bad stuff” happened to him when he did not deserve it. In his despair, he grew bitter against God for allowing it and not answering his prayers for relief.
The majority of the story contains the description of his sufferings, the accusations back and forth between Job and his friends, and Job’s monologue with God. His friends accused him of wrongdoing; Job defended himself. Job cried out to God in doubt, confusion, and pain; God remained silent. Toward the end of the story, we might be tempted to question God’s existence, much less His control. But then we read the final five chapters.
God answered Job’s inquiries and accusations with one rhetorical question followed by a series of mind-blowing, unanswerable inquiries.
So, Job … where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
In essence, God asked, Do you truly know Who I Am?
It was not a question of identity, but of trust.
As the Creator of all, God controls all. His question confronts us with His sovereign power over everything. The first verse in the Bible says: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. To fully grasp this is to understand God’s timelessness, boundless knowledge, and unlimited power. We are mortal, finite, and bound by space, time, and gravity so we struggle with such concepts.
Here’s another overwhelming thought. He knew we would exercise our free will to rebel against Him, yet continued to create us anyway. Second Timothy 1:9 confirms, He saved us and called us to a holy calling according to His purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began (NIV). As eternal God, He looked into eternity future, saw our sinfulness, and created the plan of salvation to reconcile us back to Himself. That is sovereign control.
God wants us to acknowledge Him as the Supreme, Sovereign, Creator, and Ruler. He challenges us to grasp His greatness compared to our smallness. Just like Job, we must admit, No, we weren’t there when You created everything. No, You didn’t need our input or help. Yes, we can trust You with our circumstances and hardships.
It is difficult for us to fully comprehend infinity and sovereignty. We have limits and laws. Gravity holds us in place. Time keeps its steady pace. Matter defines us. Space overwhelms us. Yet, these restrictions do not apply to God. He exists in them, around them, through them, in spite of them, and without them. God simply is. According to Revelation 1:4, He is (present), He was (past), and He is to come (future). In that infinite condition, He calls to us, reveals Himself to us, and wants a personal, intimate relationship with us.
By comparison, the average human life is 70 or 80 years (Psalm 90:10). Our importance and short lifespan is likened to a vapor that soon vanishes away (James 4:14). King David understood our “insignificance” before God by asking, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? (Psalm 8:4).
When we get a glimpse of how big and powerful God is, how He controls and orchestrates everything, we must humbly echo Job’s admission, I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. I repent (Job 42:3, 6). When our circumstances, heartbreak, and hardships frustrate us and we cry out to God in doubt or accusation, God lovingly asks: Do you really know Who I am? In spite of the apparent randomness of life, despite our acceptance or rejection of Him, He is still in control and will fulfill the ultimate purpose He planned from before time began.
It is my hope and prayer you will admit that God’s eternal, sovereign control can handle your struggles. Besides, Job already answered for you!
Be sure to check back every week and read more from our 9-part series on questions God Wants To Know.