Location: Craft Store
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?" (Job 38:4-5, NIV).
Now that I’ve graduated divinity school, I have a lot more free time on my hands. And by the kindness of both my parents and in-laws, I was given a bunch of paint supplies for graduation in order to continue painting during my newfound freedom. One of the paintings I had been dying to paint was of an orchid. This was not just any old orchid to me—it was an orchid that represented death and rebirth in an important relationship that seemed like a lost cause. This painting had very significant meaning for me.
I perused the aisles of the craft store to find the perfect size canvas for this important painting. At home, I chose just the right paints to match this orchid in real life. I even mixed a couple of paints to get just the right color of fuchsia this plant so vibrantly shows off. I spent hours doing layers upon layers of paint, highlighting and shadowing just the right places and blending until it looked the way I wanted it.
As I stepped back to look at it, I stood in awe of what I created. Not because I think I’m Picasso or anything, but because I know how much heart, soul, and time went into this painting. For those who don’t know what the orchid represents, they might say, “oh, that’s a nice orchid painting.” But for those who understand, they know that this painting represents how God resurrected even the most painful circumstances of my life and redeemed it for good.
This care and attention to detail in creation made me think of Job 38. We often read this passage and immediately think that God is telling Job how great God is and how insignificant Job is. We immediately interpret this as how dare you question me. I’ve always thought this was uncomfortable. I mean, Job lost everything! And now he’s losing his sense of worth and value?
And as I place myself in Job’s shoes as I read this passage, I wonder if I’m reading this passage through the lens of my own shame—that I’m not worthy enough to stand in God’s presence. But when I read this passage through the lens of redemptive love, I wonder: What if God was actually telling Job (and us) just how significant we are? How worthy and valued we are that God carefully marked off the dimensions of the earth (Job 38:5), that God shut up the sea behind doors so it would not overtake us (Job 38:8-11), that God has storehouses of snow in order to stop wars (Job 38:22-23). What if God is emphasizing how great God’s love is for us?
What if God is emphasizing how great God's love is for us?
Just like those who are not close to my situation may never fully understand my orchid painting, we may never fully understand the depths of God’s love and care for us. When trouble comes knocking at our door, we often wonder where God is in all of this. When we look around at our sickness, at our family’s division, at unfair systems, we may ask, “God, where are you? Are you just?”
When we’re down, it’s easy for us to hear God’s words as further condemning us. When we’re in the pit, it’s easy for us to feel we’re unworthy, like we’re never enough. Friend, I want to suggest that God tells you that you are beautifully and wonderfully made because you bear the image of God. You are so valued that the Creator became creation to save you. And there is no greater love than that.
Creator and Redeemer, thank you for loving us so much that you took so much care at creating us and the world we live in. Thank you for marking the dimensions of the land, the width of the forest, the height of the trees, and the depth of the sea. May we be reminded today and always just how high, long, deep, and wide is your love for us.
Newsom, Carol A. "Job." In Women’s Bible Commentary, 3rd ed., edited by Carol A. Newsom, Sharon H. Ringe, and Jaqueline E. Lapsley, 208-215. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012.
by Erica Smith
Nature noticer, contemplative wannabe, coffee drinker, wine taster, and novice painter.