Is God really incomprehensible or unintelligible? Can we understand how God’s goodness and evil co-exist? Since we are made in God’s image, if God’s ways seem unfair when reading the Scriptures should we keep searching or declare humans incapable of understanding God’s ways? God inspired writers to records His thoughts in the Bible for future generations to understand Him. Questions dismissed as unanswerable may be answerable. This viewpoint, rather than declaring God a mystery, may encourage others to know God better.
Deuteronomy 29:29 says: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us, and to our children forever…” God is not a mystery! The writer is contrasting the known from the unknown. How to obey God’s laws for your own good is clearly known. The secrets things can be future details of how God was going to keep His promise to Israel. Moses had just reminded his readers of God’s promise to Abraham that the Israelites are His people. (Deut 29:13) Yet, future generations will see the calamities that have fallen on the Israelites land (29:22-24) because of God’s judgments against rebellion. (29:25-28) Only God knows how He will see Israel through to enter the Promised Land, despite disobediences, and fulfill an oath to their ancestors for Israel to be a blessing to all peoples on earth. (Gen 12:3) We readers know God raised a Savior from Israel to bless all nations.
Did God rebuke Job in chapter 38 for trying to understand God? Actually, God’s response to Job seemed more open for in the end God’s angry was with Job’s friends, not Job. God rebuked Job’s friends for assuming Job needed to repent of some sin, assuming one always reaps what they sow immediately. The book of Job clearly teaches always blaming suffering on individual sin is heartless. The reality in this free world is that evildoers sometimes seemingly prosper and the righteous suffer.
Job is not rebuked for speaking up and trying to understand God, but his line of questioning may suggest God only cares if He doesn’t respond immediately to suffering in your life. Job pursued and needed more understanding of God’s ways, but we readers have the advantage of knowing Satan’s involvement and God’s careful oversight. We have the opportunity to learn from Job. Do we assume God doesn’t love us when our problems are not wiped away? Jesus’ sufferings were obviously undeserved, but God had not abandoned Him. God is not unjust nor does He loss control because evil has its day in a free world.
God is not unjust when the righteous such as Job suffer. God said to Job “would you discredit my justice.” (40:8) It is true no evil has free rein unless allowed by God, but do we know better how to run a free world that has chosen to rebel again their Creator? Genuine relationships and intimacy cannot exist without freedom. God mercifully does not annihilate people at the first sign of opposition. The truth is Job’s suffering than his prosperity had a greater impact on Job and those around him. Jesus’ miracles did not change the world as much as His sufferings. Our faith grows more during adversity than prosperity.
God does not lost control when the righteous such as Job suffer. God said “who is that that obscures my plans with words with knowledge?” (38:2) Job finally acknowledged: “I know you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (42:2) Job needed to hear from God and be reminded humans can’t always imagine what it is like to be God. Can we better run a free universe and bring good from bad? God’s timetable is not always our timetable. If God was some mystery, why did Job come away satisfied? God was not saying He was not understandable; just don’t question God’s justice or lack of oversight when the righteous suffer or the evil prosper. Suffering, as a result of freedom, became part of God’s story to lead us of our own volition to a paradise appropriate for free beings. Job and the Bible teach there is an answer to how suffering and the goodness of God can co-exist.