With our desire for control–even need for it, what do we do when confronted with circumstances over which we have no control? The sudden death of a loved one; the birth of a child who is handicapped; your unexpected diagnosis of cancer. What happens to our vaunted control of life, then? How easy is it to admit our helplessness against forces beyond our control? Not very.
After Job’s massive losses of businesses, employees, health and wealth, he descends into a massive depression. With life having lost all meaning, only the peace of death can relieve his suffering (Ch. 3). Although Job’s friends have a lot to say–most of it unwelcome accusation, God remains silent. In spite of anger, protest, and lawsuit, Job fails to maneuver God into responding. God patiently waits.
After listening to Job’s incessant complaints against His running of the universe and His allowing injustice, in chapters 38-41, He responds. First, He takes on Job’s complaints about how He had designed the world–with so much suffering (Chs. 38-39). Then, by describing two monsters based on the hippopotamus (Ch. 40) and the crocodile (Ch. 41), God answers Job’s charge of injustice. Again, William Blake’s 1875 woodcut illustrates the ferocious Leviathan (bottom).
Leviathan cannot be controlled, either, at least not by humans. “Can you put a ring through his nose, or pierce his jaw with a barb?” God wants to know (41:1). Not only the elements, the animals and Behemoth, but Leviathan, too, eludes human control. Much as He did through Behemoth, through Leviathan God reminds Job that only He, God, is in control. “There is no one so fierce as to rouse him; Who then can stand up to Me? Whoever confronts Me I will requite, for everything under the heavens is Mine” (41:9-10).
That’s a hard lesson for all of us. When confronted by forces beyond our control, we yield to God sovereign power. Is your God strong enough to contain your chaos, yet, like with Job, compassionate enough to hear you out?
[Sources: Image accessed from http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/2155/200016 on 2013-09-17. Job Text: Jewish Publication Society, 1980.]