Read Job 42:5
5 I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes. (NLT)
Poor old Job has experienced the most excruciating suffering. Which is not the sheer physical pain of his body, or the loss of earthly things precious to him, but is the apparent absence of God. The entire book of Job is not about the problem of unjust suffering but the problem of locating God in the midst of it.
God finally shows up and tells Job he is still God after all. A quick tour of the created world satisfies Job. As to the philosophical issues of suffering, God is silent. Job didn’t so much want answers: especially the sorts of answers proposed by his painfully orthodox companions. He wanted to know that God was still God.
Job’s statement in our text reminds us that we can know God in a couple of ways. We can know him through reading about him, reflecting on what others have said about him, studying him. Or we can know him through a deep personal encounter. One obvious response we might have to this is to cry out that we long to know him in this latter way. Not just know about him but to truly know him.
Which is all very well. But recall that such knowledge only came to Job after much suffering. Light shone on him after profound darkness. He was found only after feeling utterly lost. Perhaps all this reminds us that God best gets through to us when we are most desperately in need of him.