They don't tell you that all hell will break loose and it will all happen at once. All its fury brought down in one swoop and nothing to break its fall. If there was warning, perhaps, we might have braced ourselves, stockpiled, borrowed tomorrow's manna. But there is no warning for this sort of thing. The only thing it leaves in its path is a series of frozen memories: a boy on the top of a hill at sunset, a girl who holds you close while you sob, a friend who holds your cold hand in the room outside the courtroom, another friend who pulls back your hair while you heave everything you've eaten and felt in a year's worth of time.
We have grown accustomed to ashes and ashes, dust and dust. Everything we were made from and to everything we return. Dust. Man, you are dust.
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (cont)
I take comfort and joy in that. Comfort, because I know my place, and joy, because I know His.
Comfort, because these momentary afflictions are for a lasting glory, and joy, because nothing here is sacred unless it has been broken and poured out for me.
Let it do the work in you--all that brokenness, the fury of hell and its minions and the staggering mercy of the suffering brought on by car accidents and cancer--because how could it be worse? It could.
Let it shove in, shove around, hurt, hurt, hurt. Break the fallow ground, sift the confusion, let it do the work in you. Because if it does not, this hell, these sobs, these heaves, if this does not happen, then the heart you will be made of will be no heart at all.
To be what you are crafted to be today, all hell will break loose yesterday.
I swallow hard, writing that, because I am not so far from my own hells that I forget the agony of the flames licking my face, my heart, my mind, those I care for most. I am in some ways closer than ever--because I see now. I see these things that threaten to steal my joy and I name them, death, disappointment, divorce, disease. I name them because they are not subject to me (as I thought for so long they were), but they are subject to One who is higher and more grand than I can ever know.
The one who set the foundations of the earth while He thought of me. The One who breathed the creation of the world while He planned for me. The One who stretched the lines upon it while He purposed my boundaries. The One who laid the cornerstones of the earth while He knew that His own cornerstone would die for me.
All hell may break loose, Job, but we're taking it, you, me, and everyone we know. We're letting it come at us with everything, we're dressed for action, we know our place and we know our Maker.