Job – Elipaz Speaks

If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
Yet who can keep from speaking?

I can relate to Elipaz’s opening statement, responding to his friend’s rant of questions, distraught as they are. I have never sat with a friend who was suffering for seven days in silence, and then receiving the burst of pain’s expression. I think I would be a little timid myself – how would I would be received?

And yet, I would be filled with my own thoughts, just as Elipaz was as he sat the seven days,  trying to make sense of Job’s suffering. Now that the door is open to conversation, and it would be hard to be quiet.

Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope? 

Elipaz had listened to Job’s life throughout the years and knew 2 things: Job had confidence in his relationship with God and Job had lived a good life.

In Elipaz’s simple way of reasoning, one of those two things must be off. Either Job’s relationship with God was not what he thought it was, or his blameless life held blame. 

So he held out to Job a lifeline:

Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty,
For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal.

He reminds Job who God is, the one who loves us enough to discipline us, and the one who loves us enough to heal.

I haven’t lived a “blameless and upright” life. Somehow, this verse is a comfort to me. In the midst of feeling God’s discipline or the natural results of sin, I need the picture of him binding my wounds, his hand healing my life shattered in pain.

Elipaz painted the picture for Job, hoping he would admit his wrongs and turn to the God who loves him, just as we try to paint that picture to prodigal sons and daughters or those who wander. God receives no joy in discipline, just as we receive no joy in disciplining our children or seeing them disciplined with the pain of life. We want to woo them back into the healing power of God.

But the healing depends on the response…

Job – Job Speaks

Job’s friends take a lot of flack from critics, but I want to give credit where credit is due. They did sit in silence with him for 7 days. And even then, they didn’t jump the gun in conversation but waited until Job wanted to talk. What restraint!

After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.

Remember before this time, Job had developed a lifestyle of being “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil.” He also, “did not sin or charge God with wrong.”

But what he did do was regret he had ever been born, to experience such suffering. He wondered about the purpose of his life, so that he could find purpose in the suffering.

Poor Job, he didn’t have the full picture. He’s living in the here and now, just as we are. There is purpose in suffering, even if we cannot see it. There is something going on in the background we are totally unaware of. It could be that others are watching, learning what “blameless and upright” looks like. It could be our time has not come, not for us or others, and we linger, using the strength we do have to allow ourselves to be used as a “living sacrifice.” It could be there is drama in heaven between Satan and God of which we are unaware. 

But we can assume we do not have the full picture.

The fact was, as much as Job regretted it, he was born. He was blessed. Those blessings were taken away. God had something in mind Job could not comprehend.

I think of so many I know who are in a season of suffering. There are so many questions, and even the desire to have life completed through death. We want to understand what is un-understandable. But at some point, it will be fully known. 

One truth we can hold on to is that God gave us life, he will determine death, and it is our choice to give him everything between the two.

But let me just add…it’s still hard!