Peace in God’s Limitlessness

By Erin Bird

This week, we conclude our series in Job 38 by looking at verses 19-21, which say:

19 Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
20 that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?
21 You know, for you were born then,
and the number of your days is great!

(Job 38:19-20 ESV)

During our little trip through the first half of Job 38, we’ve seen God get a bit sarcastic with Job. But in case you haven’t noticed the sarcasm previously, or just don’t want to admit God would mock someone, verse 21 basically obliterates your attempts to make God sound like a heavenly Tellytubby. I used the English Standard Version (ESV) above, but go ahead and look at whatever translation you want: God is sarcastically mocking Job. Why? Because He wants Job to fully appreciate just how different Job and God really are.

And what is the primary difference God points out to Job in these three verses? That Job is limited, but God is not.

First, we see Job was limited to earth. He had no idea “the way to the dwelling of light or the place of darkness.”

Second, Job was limited in power. He couldn’t pick up the darkness and carry it to it’s home.

And third, Job was limited in time. God sarcastically points out that Job has not had nearly the same length of time in the universe God has.

This is why (as we’ve already seen in this series) that God points out Isaiah 55:8 that His ways are not like our ways and His thoughts are no where close to being like our thoughts. Our ways and thoughts are like Job – limited. But God does not possess the same limits we do. As we’ve been seeing through this entire series, God is not limited in His wisdom, understanding, power, and existence.

And so we may not know…

  • what Sunday mornings will look like when we re-gather…
  • what the economy will do over the next several months…
  • if we will get sick with COVID-19…
  • or if a loved one will pass from the dreaded virus…

…because we are limited. But we can know that God is limitless, and out of His limitlessness, He can carry us and give us peace in the midst of these uncertain days.

So join me in trusting our limitless God, who loves us without limit and can grant us peace without limit.

Peace in God’s Knowledge

By Erin Bird

Let’s jump back into Job 38. This week, we come to verses 16-18, which say…

16 Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.

(Job 38:16-18 ESV)

If You Could See What I See

God sounds like He’s copping a bit of an attitude here, getting a bit feisty with Job, mocking him for not being as great as He is. But God isn’t mocking Job – rather He’s giving Job perspective.

Longtime Baltimore Orioles baseball manager, Earl Weaver, had a rule that a player couldn’t steal a base unless given the sign to steal. All-Star Reggie Jackson felt this was unfair as he felt like he knew most of the pitchers and catchers of opposing teams and knew who he could and could not steal on. So after getting a single, Jackson decided to steal second even though he wasn’t given the sign. He easily took second, flashing a big grin to the dugout as if to say, “See, I know what I am doing!”

But after the game, Weaver pulled Jackson aside and explained why Jackson shouldn’t have stolen second. Because batting behind Jackson was one of Baltimore’s power hitters. But by Jackson taking second, first base was left open. As a result, the opposing pitcher intentionally walked the power hitter because the next batter was in a slump. The pitcher was hoping to induce a double play to end the inning. So as not to waste two men on base, Weaver felt forced to put in a pinch hitter for the batter in the slump, thus reducing the players available for later in the game.

When Reggie Jackson stole second, he had only been thinking about himself. He wasn’t thinking like a manager who was thinking about the entire game. Earl Weaver brought years of experience to the game, and with that experience came knowledge and perspective that Jackson lacked.

Like Jackson, so often all we can see is our current situation. Right now, many of us…

  • can only see the pandemic before us.
  • are tired of being “locked” in our homes.
  • itch for interaction with neighbors.
  • long for Sunday morning in-person Gatherings to resume so we can see our church family again.
  • are fearful about the future.
  • are wondering what our financial situation will be in the next few months.
  • are worried about loved ones that are either on the front lines or are fighting COVID-19.
And because we only see what is right before us, we get frustrated, and that frustration leads to an absence of peace.

But if we realize through Job 38:16-18 that God not only sees the depths of the sea, knows the gates of death, and can comprehend the expanse of the earth, but can also see eternity past and eternity future, it means He possesses the knowledge and perspective of what life will look like tomorrow.And so may you rest in the truth that God possesses the knowledge of what is next, and because He has a greater perspective than us, He knows how He will carry you through these days into the next chapter.

So trust Him, resting in His unfathomable knowledge.

Peace in God’s Consistency

By Erin Bird

In this series, we are looking at the topic of peace through God’s self-descriptions in Job 38.

This week we come to verses 12 & 13, which say,

12 Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?

Job 38:12-13 ESV

More Reliable than a Sunrise

Last week, I mentioned the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the deadliest tsunami on record. How deadly? Over 200,000 people died among 14 different countries.

I remember shortly after the tsunami having a conversation with a young adult who was struggling with his faith, and the tsunami was wrecking his faith even further. “How could a good God allow something like that?!?!” was the angry question rattling around his brain and tumbling out of his lips.

I remember answering, “I don’t know why God would allow that to happen. But if you are going to blame God for the tsunami, then you also have to give Him credit for all the days without tsunamis. If you want Him to get the credit for the devastating things, then you are going to also have to give Him credit for all the great things as well.”

sunrise over an Iowa fieldTsunamis, tornados, hurricanes, and droughts can be awful. Yet, you are far more likely to experience a sunrise than a devastating geological event. An earthquake is an every-once-in-a-while type event. Yet like clockwork, everyday the sun comes up in the east, travels across the sky, and settles in the west in the evening.

As you saw in verses 12 & 13 of Job 38, God takes credit for the daily sunrise and sunset. Since God created the earth and began its spin around its axis, God has consistently made sure the sun rises and sets each day for all of humanity.

I suspect you are a bit like me and are more prone to trust people who display consistency than people who are erratic. One of the definitions for the word integrity is “internal consistency.” God is full of integrity. He is consistent – far more consistent than any human could ever hope to be.

Because He is more reliable than even the sunrise, He can be trusted. And my hope is that this trust in God’s integrity will fill you with peace. Because you know the sun will still rise tomorrow, you can emotionally and spiritually rest. You can set aside your worry, knowing God’s consistency means He will still be on His heavenly throne when this pandemic has ended.

Peace in God’s Power

By Erin Bird

Well, here we are – the end of April. The grass is greening, the trees are budding, and Iowans are emerging (at least in 77 counties).

And yet, we are far from out of this pandemic. Despite Governor Reynold’s reassurances during her press conferences, I have seen online many Iowans fearing the worst is still yet to come. While many Americans are loudly demanding a return to “normal” life, an equally loud contingent are demanding continued restrictions.

Along with this argument, I’ve been hearing arguments about government overreach, reading articles about the top 1% of Americans getting richer through this pandemic, and learning about the plight of African American communities through this pandemic.

I couldn’t help but notice that many of these conversations seem to center around a key topic: power.

  • What power should the government have?
  • Do the richest of our society have too much power?
  • Do the poor and colored of the culture have too little power?

What I want to do today is show you through our current series in Job 38 that God is the ultimate power. And while the type of power He possesses should induce within us fear, I hope to show you that it should actually induce peace.

To begin to see this, take a moment to read Job 38:8-11

8 Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
9 when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
11 and said, Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed? 
(Job 38:8-11 ESV)

Power in the Storm

ocean wave under dark cloudsThe 2012 film The Impossible is the true story of a family vacationing in Thailand in 2004 during the Christmas holidays when one of the worst tsunamis in history crashed inland, laying in its wake death and destruction. The movie shows the power of ocean water that has been moved and displaced by an earthquake.

And yet God, in Job 38, says He has even greater power than the deadliest tsunami in recorded history. God is the one who put the land in place, so the power of the oceans doesn’t overtake the entire world. He is the one who set into motion the cycle of rain and evaporation. And even the worst wave can’t travel forever.

So Job 38 gives us a glimpse of the power of God.

But, what about…

Now, I realize this brings up an ethical issue. If God has this kind of power, why didn’t he stop the tsunami of 2004? Or the flood that affected Waverly in 2008? Or the tornado that wiped out half of Parkersburg in 2008? Is He incapable, or doesn’t care, or operates randomly?

To be able to fully answer that, one has to be on the same level as God. But since God’s ways are higher than our ways, we can’t give a fully satisfactory answer. Yes, God is completely capable of stopping a tsunami (the resurrection of Jesus displays that). And yes, God deeply cares for humans (the cross of Jesus displays that). And while we may not know how many tsunamis He has stopped throughout history, or how many tornadoes He has swallowed up, we may never know why He still allows certain geological tragedies to happen. Only He fully knows why He allows some things to happen and why He stops others. What we do know is that creation groans under the weight of sin, and God will one day put a stop to the suffering. So we can still trust Him in the midst of the storm.

Which brings us to our current crisis. Does God have the power to stop the coronovirus? Without a doubt, yes. But could He also be accomplishing something we can’t see at this moment due to our time-bound perspective? Without a doubt, yes.

So know that God is all-powerful: powerful enough to “shut the seas with doors” and powerful enough to stop COVID-19 from spreading to even one more person. Yet He is also powerful enough to calm your heart, give you strength through these days, and perfectly oversee the course of history through the worst of times.

And that is why we can find peace in God’s power.

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