Then Job replied:
‘Even today my complaint is bitter; his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.
If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!
I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments.
I would find out what he would answer me,and consider what he would say to me.’
We often think of wisdom as ‘having answers’, yet the value of the answer depends entirely on the validity of the question. The book of Job is full of questions. Questions and statements highlight our presuppositions. The words of Job’s friends reveal their assumption that Job has committed some sin for which his current suffering is God’s just punishment. For example, as Bildad challenges Job: ‘How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind. Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right?’ (Job 8:2-3).
Which of us hasn’t gone to the Lord with questions such as ‘How long?’, ‘Why?’, or even ‘Why me?’, thinking that answers are what we need. Rarely does God answer such questions. Yet our questions are important as they can determine our actions. In a sense, we ‘live’ our questions, in that they affect how we conduct ourselves. If my question is ‘How will I complete everything on my to-do list?’, then I may be tempted to resent a phone call from a customer or colleague. If it is ‘How do I win approval in my new team?’, I may adjust my behaviour to suit the culture. It is instructive to ask the Holy Spirit what such questions reveal about our assumptions and concerns. Perhaps ‘living’ a different question would be more helpful. For example: ‘Lord, how would you have me respond to this event/situation?’ or ‘Jesus, how do you want me to be a blessing in this team?’
As we take time to listen to our questions, an underlying fear or concern may emerge. Job dares to pursue God with his questions and fears. Instead of answers, Job discovers something more valuable – the assurance of God’s power and presence, to which he confesses: ‘I know you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted… My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you’ (Job 42:2, 5). May our questions also lead to such wisdom.
On 18 April, LICC is relaunching its Wisdom prayer journey focusing on how to develop the wisdom we need for all areas of life, not least our work. As on other journeys, those who sign up will receive a short prompt to pray every morning. There is additional material on our website and a wall to share your journey with others. Join this encouraging prayer journey!
Bev Shepherd is the PrayerWorks project leader and an LICC associate speaker. As a management trainer and executive coach she specialises in the areas of leadership, team dynamics and stress, and is the author of Insight into Stress published by CWR.