“Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6
Job’s friends wanted Job to repent but he refused because he hadn’t willfully sinned. Yet now, in the presence of God, he voluntarily repents—not of the sins that supposedly led to his suffering but of sins that he committed while suffering.
He repents of the arrogance of demanding answers from God since he is only a created being. He repents of challenging God’s justice as if he knew better. He repents of discrediting God to justify himself. He repents of the attitude that God owed him an explanation and in the final analysis, he repents of not knowing God better.
Many of Job’s statements about God were made in ignorance. Job didn’t fully appreciate God’s Sovereignty. God isn’t going to explain everything to our satisfaction and Job had to learn to accept mystery. One of the lessons of Job is humility since we don’t know as much as we think we do.
However, a more important lesson is that when Job received a revelation of God he no longer demanded explanations, vindications, or an audience with God. As Constable says in his commentary, “We do not need to know why if we know God.” When we’re convinced that the character of God is good, we can accept the mystery of suffering because we know we can trust an all-good God.
We can be like children who don’t always understand our parent’s decisions. Children don’t understand why they must have immunisations or why their parents may choose to move house. But children trust their parents because they know they care for them and will protect them from harm, though not always from pain.