Each fall, I do a quick read through of the Bible. Beginning in Genesis, I read as much as I can each day, and then pick up the next day where I left off. It’s been a helpful rhythm for me over the past several years as I seek to understand the bigger story of the Bible. Today, I picked up my reading in the book of Job. We know Job mostly as the man who suffers, and rightly so. An entire book of the Bible records his account with suffering. Suffering which God allowed him to endure (Job 1:8-12).
Even though I’m familiar with this story and have turned to it in my own grief, I admit I struggle to understand the implications of Job. It seems like Job is right to lament and grieve. Other times it seems like his friends are right in what they say to him in his suffering. I haven’t studied it thoroughly enough to grasp all of its meaning, but what is clear to me, is Job’s unwavering hope in the midst of his suffering. Countless times he declares God’s goodness and faithfulness. He blesses God when his most precious possessions are taken away (Job 1:21). Even while he begs for a rest from the trials, he’s praising God though he slay him (Job 13:15). If you’ve ever suffered tremendous loss, you’ve probably turned to the story of Job for comfort, strength, or at least some help in understanding your own suffering.
Well, today when I came to Job chapter twenty six, something else struck me. The entire chapter is a declaration of God’s greatness. God’s ability to create, sustain, and exercise dominion over creation is stunning. We know this, right? Look outside today and you’ll probably see signs of his power in your front yard. Brilliant autumn leaves, a blue sky, clouds gently trekking across the heavens, perhaps rain dripping from your windowpanes and creating puddles on your sidewalk. Each little drop and every blade of grass is a reminder of God as Creator. We see his power and his majesty in a thunderstorm, waves crashing on the shore, and even in the terrifying winds of hurricanes and tornadoes.
Evidences of power are all around us. And yet, what stood out to me in this chapter of Job is the way Job speaks of these things. He says,
“Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14).
For all the splendor and beauty surrounding us, Job reminds us they are but whispers. We cannot begin to understand the depth, the height, the greatness, or the fullness of God’s power and glory.
We only get whispers. And yet how powerful these whispers are! Can you even imagine how loudly the fullness of God’s glory must shout? Tears come to my eyes as I consider the vastness of his greatness. He is beyond anything we could ever imagine. Our limited understanding of his ways—as great as we consider him to be—are a mere fringe of what is there and a gentle whisper of the bigger reality.
As I was contemplating Job’s response to God’s greatness today, it reminded me of another story from Deuteronomy. Moses, standing on the edge of the Promised Land, is recounting to God’s people all that had transpired from the time they left Egypt up to then. In one of his prayers to God, Moses says to the Lord, “O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours?” (Deuteronomy 3:24). He went on to ask God for the ability to enter the Promised Land, to which God said no. But what I want to highlight here are Moses’ words at the beginning of this prayer.
He says God had only begun to show him his greatness and mighty hand. Now, please note: Moses had witnessed miracles in Egypt. Flies, the Nile turning to blood, boils, locusts, death of the firstborn males throughout Egypt, and great deliverance from Pharaoh. In addition to all of this, he watched as God parted the Red Sea to allow hundreds of thousands of God’s people to cross over on dry land.
Can you even imagine? All of these miracles, and Moses says it’s only the beginning.
Of course we could learn many things from Job and Moses, and how God used each of these men. But I think these two simple phrases from each of them help to turn our eyes to God’s greatness.
God is great and powerful. God is mighty to save. He is powerful enough to be with us in our suffering. God is sovereign over the events of our lives and we are right to trust him and experience the safety of his mighty hand. God performs miracles and wonders. Some we see, some we don’t.
Do we believe he’s strong? Are we confident in his power over all things? Do we believe he is capable of carrying out his purposes? I do, and I hope you do as well.
But even when our faith in his greatness is strong, our understanding is still limited. What we see is just a whisper of what is. We’ve only begun to see his greatness.
Look and see what God has done. Behold the works of our great God. Be amazed, yes. Stand in awe daily. And then hold on. His glory has only just begun to be revealed. One day he’s coming again and the glory we’ll behold on that day will far surpass any glory we behold in the sunrise, the autumn leaves, the ocean, the mountains, or a newborn baby’s cry. Yes, of course we see his power and glory there. But it’s only a whisper and a fringe of the glory to come.