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February 6th, 2011 – Job 5

Click here to read Job 5 on BibleGateway.com

If you’re in the mood for a little advice this morning, here’s your 2 lincolns worth: get a notebook of some sort to keep track of what Job and his friends say as their conversation progresses. It makes for a good sumup when you get finished with the book, and helps keep straight what each person’s main arguments are. If you’re not in the mood for advice, forget the whole thing and enjoy your coffee with the rest of the article. Either way.

You’ll notice right away that Job’s 3 friends offer perfect examples of what to say to a hurting friend…in Bizarro World. Although we can cut them some slack for not getting to sit in the peanut gallery in heaven like we get to do, and therefore they really don’t know what the whole story is, these are still the textbook examples of what-not-to-say to someone who’s suffering. Case 1: Eliphaz.

AND ANOTHER THING

He probably means well, but Eliphaz’s first point is pretty harsh none the less. In verse 5:17, he tells Job to be happy because God is correcting him, so he should just not complain and thank God for improving his character. In other words, Job probably deserved what he was getting because God needed to improve him, plus Job was screwing up even more by complaining. There’s also a vague implication that if Job doesn’t repent of whatever sin he committed, that God might have to keep disciplining him to straighten him out.

Of course, the Bible does say that God disciplines whom He loves, so Eliphaz isn’t completely off target. However, when someone is covered in skin lesions and scraping themselves with garbage, that’s probably not the best time to tell them how favored they are and how beneficial boils are.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

When people are having times of crisis, that’s usually not the best time to go into deep theological underpinnings of the meaning of suffering. It’s better to save that sort of discussion for pre-crisis debates or in evaluating the crisis later.

All that said, let’s give Eliphaz the benefit of the doubt. He (and Job’s other friends) probably traveled a long way to come and comfort him, and they sat silently with him for a week. That’s a pretty strong bond of friendship, so let’s not jump right in that Eliphaz is a big jerk. Ironically, the best thing that Eliphaz did was to sit silently with Job; good advice for us when we have friends in need.

Sometimes being a friend means keeping our wisdom to ourselves.

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