Confrontation Is Part of Friendship (15:4)

Is it all right to ask questions of our God? Job certainly did. He boldly, reverently, agonized with God—to the consternation of his friends. They worried that God would smite Job down for daring to talk to the Father like this. In a way, the whole book of Job is on this subject. Note what Job says in the following excerpts:

If only my life could once again be as it was when God watched over me. God was always with me then. . . . And the friendship of God protected my home. . . . I call to you, O God, but you never answer; and when I pray, you pay no attention (Job 29:2-4; 30:20, GNB).

How that worried Job’s friends! But was God offended? No, to the contrary. God later said to the three friends, “You did not speak the truth about me, the way my servant Job did” (Job 42:7, GNB). You see, Job knew God and he honored God with those cries. But God was not talking to him just then. And Job was deeply upset, because their friendship seemed to be at an end. So what upset Job’s friends actually complimented God, and spoke well of their relationship.

Surely there are serious questions we also could ask about God. Think of the accidents that happen, sometimes to the best people among us. Did that person’s guardian angels relax their protection? Serious questions about God often arise when people are dying or seriously ill. Why is it that God sometimes does not heal his trusting friends, even though we ask Him to? I believe that God, as we know Him, might well say to us, “Trust Me. I can’t explain it to you just now. I hope that you will trust Me enough to wait for the day when I can make it plain to you. I hope you have found enough evidence and enough reason for trusting Me that much. Besides, you know I would never allow you to be tried and tested more than you are able to bear.” Paul expressed this clearly later on: “God can be depended on not to let you be tried beyond your strength” (1 Cor 10:13, Goodspeed). Or as he said in Romans: “We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him. . . .” Rom 8:28, GNB.

If we trusted God enough to really listen, then, we might hear God provoke the questions Himself. Think about how God provoked His friend Abraham as He was on His way down to Sodom and Gomorrah to consume those cities. He said, “I wouldn’t do this without first telling My friend, Abraham.” In response Abraham dared to reason with his God: “Then Abraham drew near, and said, ‘Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked? . . . Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?’” Gen 18:23, 25, RSV. Have you ever dared to say something like that to God? Was God offended by what Abraham said? No, “Abraham was called God’s friend” (Jam 2:23, GNB).

And that’s just one of the places in the Bible where God is addressed in such a way. You may remember how God spoke to Moses, another of His friends. He essentially said, “I am sick and tired of these people [the Israelites]. Step aside and let me destroy them” (based on Exod 32:9-10). But look at how Moses responds to God:

Then the Egyptians will hear of it. . . . The nations who have heard thy fame will say, “Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he swore to give to them, therefore he has slain them in the wilderness” (Num 14:13, 15-16, RSV).

In this passage Moses showed his jealousy for God’s reputation. Was God offended by this? No, “The Lord would speak with Moses face-to-face, just as a man speaks with a friend” (Exod 33:11, GNB). Now, one would need to know God very well to talk to God like this. And surely Moses and Abraham knew God well. You recall how even Peter once dared to say “No” to God. In fact, he did it three times in his vision of the unclean animals (Acts 10:5-16). “There came a voice to him, `Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, `No, Lord’” (Acts 10:13-14, RSV). Did God rebuke Peter for doing that? No, this is the kind of relationship that God desires to have with us, His children.

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