Job 4-7, Psalm 136
As we enter this long phase of discussion between Job and his friends, his friends at first act admirably .We read in Job 2:11-13, “…For they made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.” They cared enough to come and mourn with Job. They actually sat with him for 7 days and said nothing, just being there to comfort him. When they eventually did talk they didn’t gossip about him but directed their thoughts to him. We can actually learn much from this. Rather than a pat phrase, or a quick verse, at times just quietly showing someone that you love them is what’s best.
It would be simple if the approach that Job’s friends took after this initial phase was restricted only to his friends, or to people outside the church now; but it is very prevalent within the church. I have had a number of patients who received similar counsel. A couple of years ago, I had a patient who was severely depressed after the loss of her mother, who died a very difficult death from cancer. In her struggles to get better she brought it before God and to many of the people in her church. After initially receiving sympathy, many of the church members began to quote various verses at her. But worse than that, she began to feel increasingly worse, when these same people began calling her faith into question. Saying things like, “you know your mother is in heaven, if you had faith you should be able to get beyond this.” Though now back in church, so hurt was she, that she removed herself from them. May we be careful when we start mixing God’s reasoning with human reasoning. The result could be disastrous.
When Job’s friends began talking the problems started. This is so true of human reasoning in general. Within human reasoning there is always truths intermixed with errors. Eliphaz takes the approach of the prosperity gospel. If you were righteous all would be going well with you. Since things are going poorly, you are obviously steeped in sin. But within the 2 chapters of his argument, he does correctly tell Job to bring his issues before a loving God. If you ever hear preachers who preach the prosperity gospel, they do the same thing. Whenever any of us rely on human logic rather than the truth of God’s Word our advice is at best mixed. We see this thinking still present during the time of Jesus, “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus corrects them in telling them that his blindness was so that the works of God should be revealed. (John 9:1-3).
Also, the stance of Eliphaz lacked love or compassion. Even when we speak the truth of God, it must always be done in a spirit of love. Paul says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Paul also says in Ephesians 4:15 that we are to speak the truth in love. May we learn to love those who are hurting full of grace and mercy.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: