“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
9 Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind."
Job is asking his friends to inquire of the Lord about what has happened to him--his loss and his suffering. I find it fascinating that Job points his friends to inquire of God's own creatures to answer about his loss. The animals go from day to day, surviving and yes, suffering, too. Yet, all remains in God's hands--humans and animals alike. So, is the suffering caused by God? Allowed by God? Directed by God? Neglected by God?
It is a troubling question. In the movie Creation, about Charles Darwin and his search to explain the natural world, there is one memorable scene where he takes his children into a forest. A rabbit is feeding and is brutally attacked by a fox. His children winced and cry and such a cruel scene seems to banish the idea that the world is a lovely place. Darwin stares at the scene as if to say that Biblical account of God's creation being "good" is a lie.
Darwin then goes on to experience the most devastating blow of all--the loss of his daughter to an unknown disease. He takes her to a doctor who had treated him successfully and hopes the doctor will do likewise for his daughter. But she continues to decline and then die. He is absolutely drowning in guilt and breathtaking pain. His wife is a devoted Christian and she has the hope of heaven in her heart for her and her family, but she is gravely concerned about her husband's repudiation of his faith. Darwin cannot reconcile the death so appallingly evident in the natural world and then the death of his child with a loving God. He gravitates more and more to a universe where God is not present and creation is a series of random events, equipping creatures to survive in such a brutal world. He then blames himself even further, for his wife is his cousin, and although allowable by English law, he wonders if he has violated a divine law, and is being punished for it.
Anger at God and anger at oneself is a faith-shattering experience.
Job is pummeled with the same loss as Darwin--the loss of his home and children. And unlike Mrs. Darwin, Mrs. Job is not supportive of her husband: "His wife said to him, 'Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!' He replied, 'You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?' In all this, Job did not sin in what he said." (Job 2:9-10)
Yet, the creation seems to still echo the voice of God as He pronounced it "good" in the Genesis account:
"Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:17) And the creation speaks of Who God is: "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)
So, how do we reconcile a universe that speaks of His majesty, yet also cries out in pain and suffering?"For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (Romans 8:20-5)
It would appear that not only did sin pollute us, it polluted creation. So, not only do we await for that glorious day when we will be completely restored, but also the world as it was originally--"good" in the words of our Creator. Isaiah gives us a beautiful picture of what this restored world will look like:
"The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox." (Isaiah 11:5-7)
Until that Day...Go out into a field, stare into the night sky, look carefully at a flower and ask yourself: if this kind of beauty can still be found in fallen world, the restored world will be beyond glorious! The rainbow, a beautiful flower, a sunset and the risen Christ all speak to our hearts a promise. I will, in faith, continue to wait, look and listen!