After being severely blasted by Eliphaz, in which Eliphaz for the first time levels specific (if completely baseless) accusations against Job, Job cries out once again for a hearing before God. He said,
If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would find out what he would answer me, and consider what he would say to me. Would he vigorously oppose me? No, he would not press charges against me. There the upright can establish their innocence before him, and there I would be delivered forever from my judge. (23:3-7)
Here we see Job once again defending his innocence and his strong belief that God was fair. That if he could only present his case to God, God would affirm his innocence. But Job goes on to say,
But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. (23:8-9)
In other words, “Where are you God? In the midst of all my suffering, where are you? Why do you seem so much against me?”
And that is the frustration of dealing with an invisible God. There are times in our trials that we nevertheless sense his presence, and are comforted. But there are other times for reasons we can’t understand and that God never explains when he seems distant from us. We pray, and our prayers bounce off of the ceilings. We read the Bible and it seems dry. And we start to wonder like Job, “Why are you so against me? If I did something wrong, just tell me already!”
How do we deal with that? There are no easy answers. The thing that impresses me about Job, however, is that throughout his questioning of God, throughout his feelings of abandonment, throughout his feelings of even being persecuted by God, he never once even contemplated walking away from God. And in the midst of all his questions, complaints, and even bitterness, he would still come out with statements of faith such as,
But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. (23:10)
And so despite all that happened, he continued to say things like,
My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread. (23:11-12)
I think that’s the attitude we need to take as well. When God seems distant, when God even seems against us, that we nevertheless cling to him. To keep believing in his ultimate goodness. To keep believing that he is just. And that though we may be suffering now, in the end, he will bring us forth as gold.
So let us not turn aside from him when trials come. Let us not walk away when he seems no where to be found. Let us not depart from the words he has spoken, but continue to treasure them. Let us continue to seek him. And the day will come, as it did with Job, that we will find Him once again.