Life is marked by events of suffering, both great and small. At present there is great suffering in Turkiye (earthquake) and the Ukraine (war). Some are the products of a natural disaster impacting entire communities with grief and loss. Others are the fruit of human evil that has a profound effect on the world. Still others are private, affecting a person of a family. In all these cases people struggle to understand why it happens. And they question God’s goodness or His justice.
Job 1-37 describes the intense suffering of Job, which causes him to question God. Then God asks lots of science questions. Here are the zoological questions.
39 “Can you stalk prey for a lioness
and satisfy the young lions’ appetites
40 as they lie in their dens
or crouch in the thicket?
41 Who provides food for the ravens
when their young cry out to God
and wander about in hunger?
1 “Do you know when the wild goats give birth?
Have you watched as deer are born in the wild?
2 Do you know how many months they carry their young?
Are you aware of the time of their delivery?
3 They crouch down to give birth to their young
and deliver their offspring.
4 Their young grow up in the open fields,
then leave home and never return.
5 “Who gives the wild donkey its freedom?
Who untied its ropes?
6 I have placed it in the wilderness;
its home is the wasteland.
7 It hates the noise of the city
and has no driver to shout at it.
8 The mountains are its pastureland,
where it searches for every blade of grass.
9 “Will the wild ox consent to being tamed?
Will it spend the night in your stall?
10 Can you hitch a wild ox to a plow?
Will it plow a field for you?
11 Given its strength, can you trust it?
Can you leave and trust the ox to do your work?
12 Can you rely on it to bring home your grain
and deliver it to your threshing floor?
13 “The ostrich flaps her wings grandly,
but they are no match for the feathers of the stork.
14 She lays her eggs on top of the earth,
letting them be warmed in the dust.
15 She doesn’t worry that a foot might crush them
or a wild animal might destroy them.
16 She is harsh toward her young,
as if they were not her own.
She doesn’t care if they die.
17 For God has deprived her of wisdom.
He has given her no understanding.
18 But whenever she jumps up to run,
she passes the swiftest horse with its rider.
19 “Have you given the horse its strength
or clothed its neck with a flowing mane?
20 Did you give it the ability to leap like a locust?
Its majestic snorting is terrifying!
21 It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength
when it charges out to battle.
22 It laughs at fear and is unafraid.
It does not run from the sword.
23 The arrows rattle against it,
and the spear and javelin flash.
24 It paws the ground fiercely
and rushes forward into battle when the ram’s horn blows.
25 It snorts at the sound of the horn.
It senses the battle in the distance.
It quivers at the captain’s commands and the noise of battle.
26 “Is it your wisdom that makes the hawk soar
and spread its wings toward the south?
27 Is it at your command that the eagle rises
to the heights to make its nest?
28 It lives on the cliffs,
making its home on a distant, rocky crag.
29 From there it hunts its prey,
keeping watch with piercing eyes.
30 Its young gulp down blood.
Where there’s a carcass, there you’ll find it.”
There are questions about a wide array of animals and birds. How they stalk prey? When they give birth? The source of the freedom of wild animals. Can wild animals be tamed? Why can ostriches run so fast? Who gave the war-horse its strength? Who enables birds to fly? The answer is “Not us”, only God can do these things.
Lessons for us
The lesson for Job and for us is that if God can control and sustain zoological life, we can trust Him for the future.
The world is far more complicated than we can understand. We can’t do what God has done. We can’t understand what God understands. But the web of life integrates so well together. Suffering exists, but God is still at work. Reminders of God’s power and providence are evident everywhere in creation.
So, when you are suffering or questioning God’s goodness or His justice, read Job 38:1 – 42:6.
This post is based on “The mystery of suffering”, Our Daily Bread, January 2023 topic.
Posted, February 2023
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