For me, the most strengthening testimonies to God come from those who have passed through the crucible of anguish. And I believe the narrator of Job gives us such a testimony in Job 28.
In Job 25-27, Job and his friends have been snarling at one another for quite some time. Bildad has pretty much called Job a maggot (Job 25:6), and Job has responded with righteous sarcasm (Job 26:2). In Job 29-37, Job renews his lawsuit against God (29-31), while Elihu makes perhaps the most useless extended speech in the Scriptures (32-37). And in Job 28, the narrator breaks into the stream of invective in order to pour out a hymn in praise of wisdom.
Displaying a wisdom that is “open to reason” (James 3:17), the narrator of Job celebrates human ingenuity before stating that “God understands the way to it [to a wisdom hidden from humanity].” (Job 28:23) The narrator’s respect for Job, humanity, and all God’s creatures shines through the hymn to wisdom and the entire book. At the same time, the narrator anticipates God’s reply to Job (chapters 38-42) by stating that God knows and understands in ways beyond human comprehension. For many readers of Job, God’s speech at the end of the book leads to repentance. And for all readers of Job, the narrator’s hymn offers peace even amid affliction. I invite you to receive God’s peace by reading Job 28 today.
I can add that the narrator’s hymn in Job 28 reminds me of other witnesses who have testified to God amid affliction. I think of Julian of Norwich suffering excruciating illness and receiving a vision in which she experienced the promise from God that “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” I think, too, of Etty Hillesum on her way to death in the Holocaust and yet writing, “Despite everything, life is full of beauty and meaning.” And I think of the transcript I read today of the gymnast, Rachael Denhollander, calling for justice against serial abuser Larry Nassar, refuting that criminal’s misuse of the Scriptures, and in that context, speaking eloquently regarding “what makes the gospel of Christ so sweet; because it extends grace and hope and mercy where none should be found.”
God knows the way to the wisdom we need, and God freely gives wisdom, grace, hope, and mercy through Jesus Christ. In time, God will wipe every tear from our eyes, “for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5)