The Voice of Job

O that thou wouldst hide me in the grave, that thou wouldst keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldst appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

— Job 14: 13-15

How much more than Job are we bound, who know him in his Son as Love, to trust God in all the troubling questions that force themselves upon us! In the confusion of Job’s thoughts, in the presence of two such facts, that God was just, yet punishing a righteous man as if he were wicked, while he was not yet able to receive the thought that approving love itself might be inflicting or allowing the torture—that such suffering as his was granted only to a righteous man that he might be made perfect—I can well imagine that at times, as the one moment he doubted God’s righteousness, and the next cried aloud, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,”  there must have mingled some element of doubt as to the existence of God. To deny the existence of God may involve less unbelief than the smallest yielding to doubt of his goodness. I say yielding; for a man may be haunted by doubts, and only grow thereby in faith. Doubts are the messengers of the Living One to rouse the honest. Doubt must precede every deeper assurance; for uncertainties are what we first see when we look into a region hitherto unknown. In all Job’s begging and longing to see God, then, may well be supposed to mingle the mighty desire to be assured of God’s being. One great point in the poem is that when Job hears the voice of God, though it utters no word of explanation, it is enough to him to hear it: he knows that God is, and that he hears the cry of his creature. That he is there, knowing all about him, is enough; he needs no more to reconcile seeming contradictions, and the worst ills of outer life become endurable.


by James House

In the past years I have often pondered the question of how much more lucky we are, and how much more accountable we are, because we live not only after the time of Jesus Christ's life on earth, but also at a time when Scripture is so readily available (accessible) to us.    How different did the ten commandments, for example, seem to those who had not seen or learned the example of Jesus' life?  How much harder to grasp the nature of God as a loving Father without the stories and recorded words of Christ?

It must be that not only was it more difficult to grasp how to practically apply the commandments, but it was probably also more difficult not to doubt God's goodness - which is to doubt God's very existence, or at least the reasonableness of obeying him.  I suppose this has fundamental bearing on why the standards ("the law") people were held to, and the instituted practices of worship and repentance were considerably different before the earthly life of Christ.

But we do live in a time where we benefit from the example of Christ's life - not only through traditions and cultural values passed on since His example and teachings were provided, but also with the opportunity to glean from Scripture what we can in a (somewhat) first-hand and personal way.  This provides us significant advantage - and hence accountability.

If we doubt - and doubt we will ("uncertainties are what we first see when we look into a region hitherto unknown"), we have more means of finding clarity. Does that mean we have fewer means for growing faith?  We still have no outward, physical proofs - faith is still required in order to act.  But we do have the advantage of being more precisely pointed in the direction to act.  So act we must.   If we don't act, our doubts will remain stronger than our faith - even if we temporarily fool ourselves into thinking we are believers.

Here are some more thoughts and words on doubt and faith from George MacDonald:

"For a doubter is not without faith. The very fact that he doubts, shows that he has some faith. "

"When I find anyone hard upon doubters, I always doubt the quality of his faith."

"It is of little use to have a great cable, if the hemp is so poor that it breaks like the painter of a boat. I have known people whose power of believing chiefly consisted in their incapacity for seeing difficulties. Of what fine sort a faith must be that is founded in stupidity, or far worse, in indifference to the truth and the mere desire to get out of hell!"  (from "The Seaboard Parish")

"Peace is for those who do the truth, not those who opine it. The true man troubled by intellectual doubt, is so troubled unto further health and growth. Let him be alive and hopeful, above all obedient, and he will be able to wait for the deeper content which must follow with completer insight." (from "Paul Faber, Surgeon")

“Doubts are the messengers of the Living One to rouse the honest heart. They are the first knock at our door of things that are not yet, but have to be, understood.” (from,"Unspoken Sermons")

"the very first step towards action is the death warrant of doubt"  (from "The Marquis of Lossie")