Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan
GREAT LENT: DAY 23
“Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall answer to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone.” Job 38:3-6
The poetic text found in the Book of Job is considered to be a universal treasure, a high point in wisdom literature. After thirty-seven chapters of dialogue and debate between Job and his friends, God intercedes and directly speaks to Job from the midst of a thunder cloud.
God challenges Job, saying, “Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall answer to me.” God then begins His challenge to Job with the creation of the world. First, God asks, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” This question is a challenge to humanity, as it is to Job, as God asks where humanity was during the creation of the universe. Thereafter, God raises questions about nature, its appearance, animals, plants, and the biological world to engage Job.
Through these sets of questions, God opens the eyes of Job so that he could see the conditions and limitations of human knowledge. Based on the thirty-seven chapters preceding this questioning, we see that Job and his friends relied on their ability to examine and exhaust the depths of life and the works of God. Nevertheless, God humbles them by demonstrating how little they know about the universe and the works of all-mighty God. By bringing reality to the surface, “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I say in response to You? I put my hand on my mouth.” (Job 40:4).
Certainly, for centuries and millennia, human beings have aspired to understand how and from where the universe came into existence, and to know who could be the author of such wondrous works. Today, science and technology have contributed to advancing our understanding of the universe, and we have gone into space to discover the secrets of our universe. But, regardless, many scientists and experimental physicists confess today that in all their collective efforts, we have discovered only five percent of the universe. The remaining 95 percent is still a mystery. An unknown universe of new particles and forces, of “dark matter” and “dark energy” awaits discovery.
Hence, the words of God to Job were a direct expression of God’s love and mercy. In a place of deep pain and unimaginable suffering, Job needed God’s mercy and love, not a rationalization of things beyond. Indeed, Job found that which he sought in his prayers: an answer to his deepest desires. God’s revelation to Job encourages us, as it reminds us that in our difficulties, struggles, and lamentations we are never alone. God visits all of those who seek Him as their refuge, and with steadfast prayer implore for His mercy.
Therefore, may our goals for communion with God not merely to intellectual information about His works. Rather, let us also reach for His compassionate and empowering presence. May we humbly trust Him and obey His holy will, for He will empower us to overcome the various difficulties and trials that come our way.