“Curse the day I was born. Why did I live to see my ruin? I have lived blamelessly. Why didn’t I die in my mother’s belly? It would have been better to have never breathed than to suffer needlessly as I have. Why am I still alive?” He covers his eyes with a filthy, diseased hand and weeps. He has lost all. His children cruelly killed, his livelihood destroyed, his body racked with pain. In one day, he has been completely crushed. A question croaks from his cracked lips over and over.
A crackle of electricity fills the air. The clouds begin to boil, churning into an angry whirlwind. The winds tears at the trees and the ground, tossing debris into his face. The sun is gone, buried in black. Lightning splits the sky and thunder answers back, ringing in his ears. Rain pelts his face and sends fire through his body as it pounds his sores. As the heavens rage, he lies back against the mud and waits to die.
The air grows unnaturally still, even as the clouds boil, and silence rings in his ears. The tent fills with an intense presence, a thick palpable power. He knows. He is in the presence of the Almighty. He buries his head, hiding from the searing heat of the Holy. His soul wails at the sight of the Creator, and he curls into fetal position. The Almighty speaks.
“Who is this that questions My wisdom with ignorant words?” The words echo endlessly in his ears, shaking him to his core.
“Brace yourself like a man…” A man? He is a lump of clay, mere dust, in comparison to deity. Brace himself? He wilts in fear.
“…because I have some questions for you and you must answer them.” His mouth is numb, his lips unmoving. He can only listen to the voice of his God as it shakes the ground beneath him.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much!” Images appear in his mind. He can see them even when he opens his eyes. “Who determined its dimensions?” Blackness, then suddenly light. The earth begins to spin before him, blue and greens filling his eyes.”What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” A song fills his ears, paining him with its exquisite harmony. A sunrise, bursting with wildly beautiful colors swirls into the sky.
“Have you ever in your life commanded the morning to appear or called forth the dawn from the east?” The sea roars forward to his feet. He is thrown into the depths of the ocean, to the deepest places of the waters.
“Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you explored their depths?” His eyes take in the explosion of a volcano, the scream of a hurricane, the rage of a wildfire. He is ripped across dusty deserts, snow-capped mountains, lush forests, and violent seas, filled with color, light, and glorious beauty.
“Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know!” He is pulled out into the blackness of space, racing among stars, planets, and suns as the voice of the Almighty roars across the universe.
“Can you direct the movement of the stars—binding the cluster of the Pleiades?” The planets rush around the sun, whipping past his face and leaving him breathless. His view expands like looking through a microscope, until he can see the molecules in a speck of dust. Closer still, and he sees the atoms themselves.
“Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth?” The images fade into blackness, and the world falls silent. The Creator speaks again, softly into his ear.
“Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” He feels the weight of the presence of the Holiest of Holy. He hides his face in shame and misery.
“I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say,” he weeps back. But Adonai has not finished with him. The earth explodes into view once more, covered in floodwaters. The seas rage and the skies pour out, battering about one small ship. The flood suddenly recedes, leaving the ship alone on a mountain. A brilliant rainbow spreads across the sky as the rain vanishes.
Pyramids of stone rise from the desert. A wide river through the desert turns deep crimson, the color of blood. The sky above turns dark and the buzzing of insects fills his ears. Day turns to night, and a fiery sword passes over the land. The Egyptians begin to wail their mourning song.
“Will you discredit my justice and condemn me just to prove you are right?” A bright light fills his eyes. He feels the burning perfection of the Holy as the light pierces through him. Shadows vanish, and the air fills with the sweet scent of incense. He bows in the presence of the Almighty, mere dust, clay. But a shadow in the presence of the Eternal.
“All right, put on your glory and splendor, your honor and majesty.” An intense heat scalds his lungs and strangles his breath.
“Give vent to your anger. Let it overflow against the proud. Humiliate the proud with a glance; Bury them in the dust.” The voice of God roars in his mortal ears, the words burning into his mind like firebrands.
“Then even I would praise you, for your own strength would save you.”
He is on his pallet. He sees the roof of his tent and listens to the sounds of the birds outside. With tears in his eyes, he forces the words from his bleeding throat.
“I know that You can do anything, and no one can stop You.” He coughs, his bleeding hands covering his face. “I have heard of You before, but now… now my eyes have seen You.” He turns onto his side, grabs a fistful of ash and sand, and pours it over his flesh, wincing as it touches his sores.
“I take it all back. I repent in dust and ashes.” And in his pain, he feels his soul lighten. God has heard.