Where were you
when I laid the earth’s foundations?
Tell me if you know.
Job is arguably the most downer parts of the Bible. (And the Bible has a lot of downer parts. In one of them, God dies.) Job 38 is the passage where God finally, finally speaks back into Job’s tortured sorrow. For 38 chapters, Job has been questioning God, saying, “My children are dead, my wealth is gone, and my friends are a bunch of insensitive victim-blaming jerks. Why, God?” And when God finally deigns to speak, God goes all Kendrick Lamar on some, “Sit down, be humble” vibe. God says, “Oh, you have questions? Well I have questions, too. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?” Not helpful, God. But then again, maybe once in a while, it can be comforting. God continues on, asking Job if he can leads the constellations across the sky or call forth sea monsters to play with his children; if he knows where mountain goats give birth or why the ostrich is so dumb (cf. 39:13-18). God never apologizes or explains why so much horror happened to Job. Maybe God doesn’t have an explanation. Maybe what happened is inexplicably tragic, and not even the Creator of the Universe can justify the pain Job went through. But what God does say is: “The universe is bigger than you.” There are worlds and worlds beyond your tragedies, there are lives and moments continuing on. This is one of my very favorite Bible passages, because it is so refreshing to remember the universe does not revolve around me. Whatever is going on in my life, in some corner of the universe something awe-inspiring is happening. A horse is dancing. The mountains are standing still, just being mountains. Just being a place where my problems are not.
Takeaway: It can be an act of resilience to remember that the universe is big enough to contain your pain—and much more than your pain. No matter how overwhelming it is, there is something else in the universe. This week, when stress starts spiraling up your body and everything feels like it’s about to fall apart, stop. Breathe. Remember that somewhere out there, there’s an ostrich “flap[ping] joyously… God didn’t endow her with sense… but when she flaps her wings high, she laughs at horse and rider” (38:17). Breathe again. Go on, knowing the universe is big enough for all your pain. And the ostrich.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).