Some of my readers may recall that I've been plodding through a study of the Biblical book of Job. It's taking me a while to get through this book, longer than I thought it would. I started on July 14th of this year, 69 days ago. The book of Job has 42 chapters. I've studied 38 to date. In my tiny Bible, the book of Job only covers 46 pages.
Yes, I'm progressing through this book like slogging through molasses.
For the first 37 chapters, Job laments about his awful condition, and his "friends" try to convince him to repent, for surely no man would be so awfully afflicted if he hadn't done something very wrong. Ugh! For a good half of the chapters, Job's friends pontificate, so pompously sure of themselves. They know Job must be harboring some secret sin and is just too proud to confess it. (With friends like that, who needs enemies?) By the end of chapter 37, I just wanted to scream. I wanted the good old boys to shut up, and I wanted help to finally come for Job. Please. And then in chapter 38, God finally responds to Job. Job has been horrifically afflicted. He has cried out to God. Job has imagined a peaceful setting and a "legal trial" in which God hears his case. It is not to be as Job has wished. Instead, God answers Job out of a whirlwind; He speaks out of a storm. It is terrifying, but is evidence that God has not been ignoring Job all along.
God does not belittle Job's intelligence, nor does he scorn Job. The format of God's response to Job is to bombard him with rhetorical questions. To each of God's questions, Job must humbly plead ignorance. However, first God tells Job to "brace yourself like a man..." BRACE YOURSELF? I continued reading through the rest of that chapter, but my mind kept returning to those two commanding words. Brace yourself. What was God really telling Job to do with that brief command?
After some thought and prayer, I believe by encouraging Job to brace himself, God wanted Job to use all his physical, mental, and spiritual abilities to try to understand God's intentions for Job, which God will express indirectly in the speech that will follow those two words.
What is the takeaway for me? How shall I "brace myself?" I, too, can use all my physical, mental, and spiritual abilities to try and understand God's intentions for me. For one, I can be intentional about studying the Bible each day. Furthermore, I can train myself to listen to Him speak to me throughout each day. The more I obey, the more I believe I will clearly hear Him. And finally, I can step out in faith and obediently take those "risky" steps of action as I reach out to others.
Who can fully understand the mind of our God? Perhaps with some practical "bracing," we all will see more into the depth, nature, and wisdom of God. That, my friends, seems to be a win-win.