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Job 23:8-10

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Job 23:8-10, ‘Behold, I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive Him; on the left hand when He is working, I do not behold Him; He turns to the right hand, but I do not see Him. But He knows the way that I take…’

In verses 8-9, Job metaphorically turns in every direction looking for the presence of the Lord in the midst of his suffering. At every turn, Job’s desire to behold the Lord, to see the Lord with the clear eyes of faith, to be experientially assured of His presence—is thwarted…so far as Job’s ability to recognize YHWH goes, He is not there.

And yet, in this darkness, in this blindness, in this numbness, faith stands and declares: ‘But *He knows* the way that I take…’ In this way, Job transfers the decisive center of knowledge from the self to the Lord. I do not know, I do not see, I am not aware of His presence…but *He knows*…He knows the way that I take, He knows the anguish that I am in, He knows the pain of my flesh and soul, He knows—He knows….Job relinquishes the burden of determinative knowledge from his own hands and acknowledged YHWH’s knowledge of himself as the deepest, hope-sustaining truth.

It is not finally that I know Him, but that He knows me….not finally that I can perceive and lay hold of a sure sense of His presence, but that He has lain hold of me, that He is aware of me, and that He is present and at work even—and especially—in the darkness of my ‘unknowing.’

Is this not the epitome of faith as we see it modeled in our Lord on the cross? Does He not, in the mystery of the Passion, enter into our own Godforsakenness, such that His cry ‘why have you forsaken me’ (regardless of broader contextual notes of hope to which it may allude) is truly an experience of precisely the inability to perceive the divine presence as Job expresses it here? And yet, it is to ‘my God’ that our Lord makes this agonized cry—simultaneously declaring the (perceived) absence and (believed) presence of the one true God…

And because our Lord and God has entered even into this place of Godforsakenness, He is—we can be sure—present with as the One who knows us even when we are unable to perceive Him.