The book of Job is heralded as one that gives rich biblical insight into suffering and the reasons for it; the part that Satan plays along with Job, his advice giving friends, and Job’s wife. It’s a loaded reference manual, but I don’t intend to address the roles played by them in this post. Instead, it’s the role and response God gives that intrigues me. So many questions are asked in the first 37 chapters, as Job is chosen to be the recipient of a continuance of suffering, all with the intent of searching for the answers to why. The myriad of questions, asked by all characters throughout the book, are answered by God, beginning in chapter 38, but not answered as we’d expect because He only seems to ask more questions as a response. A lot of questions. Repetitively, the questions flood in with deliberate sarcasm. The star of the show, Who is the leading character of all 66 books in Scripture, finally appears at the end and shreds apart any semblance of self respect that the men could’ve had left.
Understandably, labeling sarcasm as an attribute of God may not sit well with some. Flip open your Bible and read the last 5 chapters of Job and judge for yourself whether the tone God is using is complete mockery and demanding our attention to His majesty. God speaks with a definitive harshness towards His hearers, who dare to question His sovereignty in their suffering. He maintains this character of sarcasm and scoffing as the verses roll on, challenging and directly confronting the men, asking questions that only He is the answer to. I enjoy rereading Job just to reach this end; if I’m in the midst of questioning Him, I’m humbled to bow before the Lord that’ll call me out quicker than I can say, “why me?”
Christians often find their focus on Jesus Christ, in His gentleness and forgiveness, but we mustn’t neglect the need to regard and address His consummate holiness as we come before Him. When we find ourselves wanting to question His will, our suffering, or whatever lot in life we’ve been dealt, to keep our indignant attitudes in check requires embracing His divinity. In case we’re tempted to disregard this part of Christ’s character revealed in the New Testament as separate from the God of the Old Testament, Jesus responds to Peter with, “Are you still so dull?” (Matthew 15:16), and asks, “How long shall I put up with you?” after being asked to rebuke a demon from a boy that His disciples couldn’t cast out (Matthew 17:15-18). Again, in Luke 6:61, He asks His disciples after they’ve questioned His teaching, “Does this offend you?” These are not gentle prompts filled with passivity spoken by Christ. In fact, many of us would consider them insulting if we were asked such things as they come across as demeaning and degrading to our egos. Well, that is precisely the point. Our egos are irrelevant, branching off from the root sin of our pride.
We so effortlessly become proud of who we are in Christ that the risk of losing sight of who Christ is, in all His power and dominion, that there becomes a deserving spirit about us as we forge through tough times and toy with the idea that confronting or questioning God is acceptable. Who do we think we are? Better yet, who do we think God is? The latter is the question we must answer. When we assign traits to the character of our God that aren’t consistent with the traits revealed to us in Scripture, it’s no wonder that in our suffering we have the audacity to question Him. Keeping the focus narrow, the inherent fact that this God of the Bible holds many attributes, including the right to demand our allegiance to His holiness by sarcastically confronting our puffed up egos, can be beneficial for us if we can see beyond the pride of man. Embracing Him, all of Him, is worshiping with wisdom and, in turn, expands our focus to rightly answer, “Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me” (Job 40:11).
The classic hymn, Amazing Grace, says, “How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” To be reminded of our depravity and His saving grace in response to it, even while reading God’s harsh words towards us, can lead us to appreciate the sweetness of sarcasm when said by Him. Sarcasm, mocking, and harsh tones aren’t looked upon kindly in our society, but we have to separate learned societal manners from God, being careful not to mold Him into what we feel is appropriate, but take in each word He speaks in Scripture as fitting to His character. So when we find ourselves on the brink of pridefully questioning God, be ready to “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (Job 38:3 & 40:7).