Look up, reach out
Science has a way of making a person feel small.
For instance: We know that the ocean covers 70 percent of the earth’s surface, but it is so deep and dark that humans have only explored e a small fraction of it. There could be hundreds of species of living things or huge underwater mountain ranges that we know nothing about! And that is only the unknown on our own planet.
When we look up at the artistic display of stars and planets in the night sky, we cannot even tell that space is expanding infinitely in all directions. Who knows what else is out there?
If I ever get a moment during a busy day to remember facts like these, it takes my breath away.
The climax in the book of Job speaks to this realization. Rightfully so, when things in his life begin to fall apart, Job asks God, “Why?” Instead of offering a particularly sympathetic answer, though, God reminds Job that the world is a lot bigger than him alone. The same God that tends to Job’s pain must also cause the sun to rise, feed the lions in the field, and make rain to fall in the empty desert (Job 38).
This is not to minimize the impact that Job’s despair has had in his life. It does not mean that we are wrong to be angry or upset (even with God) when our lives take impossible turns for the worse. But it does force us to redirect some of our focus from ourselves to the whole of creation.
If we only worry about preventing or fixing bad things in our own lives, then we are too distracted to tune into the world around us. This fear and preoccupation are some of what makes us so isolated in our communities. We hide behind disagreements instead of taking the time to understand another person’s background or point of view. We are desensitized to violence or hunger if our daily lives are comfortable enough, instead of empathizing with those who are in need.
The God in the book of Job is the same God that challenges us to work together with all of creation to take care of what and who God has made. We cannot all go deep sea diving to care for the depths of the ocean. But we can reach outside of our personal bubbles to help someone up whose life has knocked them down. And that is what we are going to need to do together if we are going to make it through this unpredictable thing that we call life.