How then are we to put all of this together? In Job 37, Elihu reminded Job that God is in the storm. "With moisture He loads thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightening. It changes direction, turning around by His guidance." There really is no way to get around those words, is there? Last week, we saw the storm turn. We saw its direction change. And Scripture affirms unequivocally that "It does whatever He commands it on the face of the inhabited earth. Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen."

In chapter 38, the Lord answers Job out of a whirlwind. Speaking to Job, He says: "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on 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? Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, "Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop? Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? [Job 38:1-13]

"Who has cleft a channel for the flood, or a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land without people, on a desert without a man in it, to satisfy the waste and desolate land and to make the seeds of the grass to sprout? Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb has come the ice? And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth? Water becomes hard like stone and the surface of the deep is imprisoned. [Job 38:25-30]

Throughout this chapter, God rebukes Job, saying in effect, "Who are you to question Me? What right have you, the creature--a suffering creature, yes, and a creature with many questions, yes--but who has given you the right to interrogate Me?" At the beginning of chapter 40, the Lord concludes His argument: "Then the Lord said to Job, 'Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.'" [Job 40:1] It is hard to imagine a more severe and direct indictment than what God says here to Job. Where were you when I made the world? Remind Me again how you set the sun on its course. Remind Me of how you set the limits on the waters.

Job's response is entirely appropriate. "Then Job answered the Lord and said, 'Behold I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; even twice, and I will add nothing more.'" [Job 40:3] He continues, "I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore, I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees you. Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes." [Job 42:1-6]

What we should learn from Job's response--at a bare minimum--is that while we are to seek to understand what God is doing in the midst of this crisis, we must never act as if we can explain exactly why God allowed this tragedy to happen.

One great danger is the temptation to say, "I know why this storm hit, and I know why this storm hit where it did." "New Orleans is a sinful city," some say. "The Lord sent this storm because of the casinos in the gulf and because of the wickedness in the city of New Orleans." To make such a claim, however, is to go far beyond the bounds of human knowledge. We are simply not given the right to say with such precision why this tragedy--or any other natural disaster--has occurred.