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Suffering & Silence

“Behold I am insignificant; what can I reply to you? I lay my hand on my mouth” (Job 40:4) 

At the close of the narrative we find that Job's silence can only be found again in his confrontation with God. Carson suggests that God achieves two ends in his speech. The first is to emphasize that Job cannot justify himself at the expense of condemning God.1 A reason for Job's suffering is not forthcoming and Job has no rights to such a reason. But Job having no reason does not mean that there is no reason, only that Job is not in a position to know it. There is no satisfaction if the only thing that will satisfy is being told the reason one suffers.

Second, Carson concludes that implicit in God's speech is that “there are some things that you will not understand, for you are not God.”2 Job's reaction is not understanding, but repentance. He does not understand his woes any better, but Job knows God better. Job's indignation, complaint and lament is not relieved by explanation, but by the knowledge of God.

Job never knows anything about God's encounter with Satan yet he remains faithful to God despite his complaints. For those who know the bottom of the pit, the existential kick of loss, sickness, depression, alienation and oppression, Job's voice is God's gracious gift, providing the words to say when there are none. And his silence provides the hope that God hears our plea.

1How Long O Lord?, 153.