When God is Absent

We know the phrase, “it’s only human” to be used when a situation brings out a part in us that we really have no control over. Essentially, it’s meant to excuse ourselves for any intense emotions, responses or thoughts that we are helpless in combating. And in most situations, when life seems to get all the more harder, it’s only human to ask the most critical of all questions: why?

After losing family, wealth, social status, health and belongings, Job makes his case before God that the suffering that has befallen him is unwarranted. God responds in chapter 39 and the verses below reveal not the answer to the why, but to the whom.

Job 39:5-8
 5 “Who has let the wild donkey go free?
Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
6 to whom I have given the arid plain for his home
and the salt land for his dwelling place?
7 He scorns the tumult of the city;
he hears not the shouts of the driver.
8 He ranges the mountains as his pasture,
and he searches after every green thing.

We can gather from these four verses that 1.) God is never unaware 2.) God’s design is perfect amidst an imperfect state 3.) There is purpose in the wandering.

God is Never Unaware

Somewhere in the desert, miles and miles away there is a wild donkey. It walks across the dirt and sand and finds shade underneath a tree after a long trek. It shakes its head to keep the bugs from resting on his eyes and flicks his tail wildly to keep the flies at bay.

Do you see that donkey as it hunts for food and seeks for shelter, Job? Do you know when its last meal was and when it will find its next one?

If it were to quickly lap up water from a nearby seep or collapse from the heat would you know? Would you hear its hooves as it journeys across a land you have never seen, never knew to have existed and would its eventual death matter to you?

This insignificant creature that lives and dies without the knowledge of another human being is seen, known and loved by God. We know, therefore, that our God sees us deeper than we dare believe, knows us through birth to grave and loves us completely and irrevocably more than we could ever comprehend. The donkey is loved, but you are dearly beloved.

Every excruciating moment of Job’s suffering, each passing thought of wanting to die, and the countless nights of whimpering and sleeplessness are all seen by God. He who does not abandon the four legged creature will not abandon you.

God’s Design is Perfect

There is something fascinating about seeing wild animals roam their natural habitat and go about their days hunting or caring for their young. But on the other hand, there’s something so inexplicably sad about their captivating wildness. The blazing heat will no doubt scorch their paws and dehydrate their bodies, and the little ones that were born into the world yesterday may fall prey tomorrow to the predatory talons above.

Dare I say it? It almost seems unfair they must experience the harsh realities of the outside. And yet, we know that God’s design is perfect despite the cold, hunger, sickness and death that surrounds them. God is the one “who set the wild donkey free” and placed him in the arid desert. The situation may seem imperfect to us but it is beautifully perfect in God’s grand design. There is a reason for it all and a reason why this is where the donkey is meant to live and even thrive. We cannot begin to fathom how often He looks at us, moves things around for us, and makes life happen for our sake. The desert’s harshness is no match for the adoring and soul captivating love and plan of God our Father.

In his frail body and diseased skin, Job cries on behalf of the lot he has been dealt. It may seem harsh to us that God does not come down to apologize or admit guilt in his servant’s pain, but through the donkey that God so tenderly loves, we know that He sees, hears and understands the why in ways that we could never imagine. Even if the why remains unknown to us, we can look towards the one who makes Himself known to us.

There is Purpose in the Wandering

To read this verse in all its delightful imagery is a comical sight. Our protagonist, the donkey, roams this way and that from the sandy ground of his home to the bustling chaos of towns and cities. You may very well ask: where is he going? what is he thinking?

No matter…

On he goes, disregarding the drivers and the men he irritates as he crosses the street without looking both ways. The swears and the jabs thrown in his direction fly over his head as he continues his journey to the mountains. Despite all this, he is far from finished; he continues forth in hopes of finding green pasture that neither the desert nor town could have provided him.

We understand that his journey was not one of self discovery or pleasure, but of basic necessity: food. Without thinking twice, he sets off to find the very thing that he needs to survive and disregards all the rest. In that pursuit, he is being the creature that God created him to be: a wild animal, roaming and wandering the earth. I’m sure there was no set mountain or creek that the donkey found himself determined to be at. The point, at the end of the day, is to simply go. Go and find, go and hunt, go and continue. The wandering is simply a part of it — the destination will come later.

In our darkest and deepest of seasons, there may not be an AH-HA moment where it all makes sense, where all the repeat doctor visits, endless payments or typical 9 to 5 work days come together to this heightened revelation of purpose. But go and wander with the knowledge that God has not for once dropped His gaze on you. Go and wander while holding close to the truth that when the ultimate navigator is leading the way, your wanderings are never aimless.

Onward, Christian soldier.

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