Look, God is greater than we can understand. His years cannot be counted. — Job 36:26
Elihu, one of Job’s friends, reminded Job of God’s power and majesty. In his dialogue with Job, Elihu presumed God sent Job’s suffering to keep him on guard and away from a life of sin (Job 36:21). Nothing could have been farther from the truth. Job and his friends did not understand what God was doing behind the scenes or His purpose in allowing Job to be afflicted by Satan.
We, too, must be careful not to presume to know always why God allows us to go through suffering because we are not privy to God’s decretive will or His purposes ordained for us. Even Job could not figure out why he suffered such excruciating pain despite his apparent moral purity, integrity, and blamelessness. God Himself affirmed these virtues in Job. God asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil” (Job 1:8). Job also thought God was punishing him for his sins (Job 13:20–26).
Job’s affliction points out that though we suffer in this fallen world, not all suffering is attributable to any specific sins we have committed. In this world, the righteous and the unrighteous suffer for various reasons. The difference is that the righteous have the assurance that an almighty God superintends their suffering, and they continue to trust Him even if it leads to death. Though Elihu wrongly presumed that Job was suffering because of his sins, he had the good sense to recognize the majesty of God.
First, Elihu affirmed God’s greatness. He said, “Look, God is greater than we can understand.” God’s greatness is demonstrated in His eternality. “His years cannot be counted” (Job 36:26). He has no beginning or end (Ps. 90:2; 102:27). God’s greatness is manifested in His functionality. Elihu asked, “Who is a teacher like him?” (Job 36:22). No one can teach God what to do or find fault with Him. God instructs and guides His children on how they must go (Ps. 32:8). How does He do that today? He does it primarily through His written Word. The psalmist extolled: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105 NKJV). God’s greatness is also revealed in His authority. He has power and control over nature—rain, clouds, thunder, lightning, and storms (Job 36:27–30). They are at His disposal.
Second, Elihu affirmed God’s gloriousness. He invited Job and others listening to him to glorify God for His mighty works, singing songs of praise (Job 36:24). The best way to respond when we are going through suffering and pain and when we can’t seem to make sense of what is happening to us, is to glorify God. He alone is glorious and worthy of our praise.
Third, Elihu affirmed God’s goodness. He told Job, “By these mighty acts he [God] nourishes the people, giving them food in abundance” (Job 36:31). God uses storms, thunder, lightning, and other such mighty acts to sustain us and show that He is in our midst.
Perhaps you are going through a difficult situation in life. Maybe you don’t fully understand or make sense of what is happening to you at this moment. If so, don’t despair. Reflect on God’s greatness, gloriousness, and goodness. Glorify Him through praise and worship. Trust that God knows what He is doing. Look to God, who came down to us in the person of Jesus Christ. He is Immanuel, God with us. He is with you in your suffering. He will see you through what you are going through for His glory.
For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. —Deuteronomy 10:17–18