“I cry to you for help and you do not answer me: I stand, and you only look at me. You have turned cruel to me; with the might of your hand you persecute me. You lift me up on the wind ; you make me ride on it, and you toss me about in the roar of the storm. For I know that you will bring me to death and to the house appointed for all living Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand, and in his disaster cry for help? (Job 30:20-24)
Job, driven by despair by the deaths of his children, economic ruin, and loss of his health, demanded a hearing from God. Near the end of what appears to be a quest for a legal remedy in a celestial court, the broken man explains his cry. Job has prayed for relief. God has ignored him, from Job’s perspective. Indeed, he thinks God has attacked him. There seems no relief. Yet Job persists in his plea for rescue, his call for fire.
As every other thing in which he might place his confidence and his pride disintegrates or fails, Job maintains faith in a God who lives and can rescue. Like a soldier trapped under withering enemy fire and rocked by explosions who has used all his ammunition and has eaten all his food, Job seems to have no reason for hope, yet continues to send out calls for rescue. His cry may resonate with the battered wife, the betrayed husband, the parent whose child has died, the homeowner who watched his house burn to the ground. “I cry…and you do not answer…I stand, and you only look.” “Act,” the victim wants to scream, “save me!”
In catastrophic times, hope seems faint. Job’s prayer of lament assures us who may suffer also that even in the worst of times, faith can endure; God who has rescued will redeem again. When all seems lost, we must not “curse God and die,” but with urgency continue to stretch out our hands and call for God to act, even while we question why he has not acted yet.