Friday, April 11, 2008

When I Measure Him by My Sense

I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You
(Job 42:5)

It has been a rough year for my wife and I. And it does not appear that the seas are going to calm anytime soon. So, for now, the temptation we most face and most need to fight against and most need to meditate against and most need to pray against is that slippery presumption that our present sense of deep pain is an accurate perception of our Savior and Lord and His purposes for our lives.

Job confronted this temptation. Convinced of his own moral innocence in view of his great suffering, Job began to question God’s justice and presence and care. In a flood of presumption, then, Job summoned the Lord to answer his claims (chs. 29-31):
Oh that I had one to hear me!
Behold, here is my signature;
Let the Almighty answer me!
And the indictment which my adversary has written
(Job 31:35)
Interestingly enough, the Lord answers Job. But not with a legal argument or a with philosophical defense or even with a moral justification. In fact, the Lord's answer never addresses any of Job's charges directly nor does He ever fully explain the backdrop to Job's suffering (cf. chs. 1-2). The Lord gave Job something entirely different and, yet, altogether more wonderful than anything Job had requested.

Job’s despair, and my despair, is so often aided by the blinders that great sorrow draws over one's faith. And so the mercy of God is revealed, not with a detailed theodicy, but in something quite simple... the removal of the blinders and the revealing of God Himself.

God granted Job exactly what he needed, to see Him. The neglect of the eternal verities of God’s person and character is soil from which hopelessness grows. So that as I suffer, what I most need is to see my God:
His immensity surely ought to deter us from measuring Him by our sense, while His spiritual nature forbids us to indulge in carnal or earthly speculation concerning Him. With the same view He frequently represents heaven as His dwelling-place. It is true, indeed, that as He is incomprehensible, He fills the earth also, but knowing that our minds are heavy and grovel on the earth, He raises us above the worlds that He may shake off our sluggishness and inactivity.

- Calvin, The Institutes, I.13.1 (emphasis added)
This is why I believe that the account of Job is a record of hope. When I suffer, and I begin to measure Him by my pain, I most need and am most desperate to see God. I need such a vision of Him that all those creeping doubts and presumptuous motives for despair are quenched by His glory.


  1. I'm thankful it was encouraging, Nicki. Blessings on your pursuit of Him.