Third In Five-Week Series on “The Problem Of Evil and Suffering”
When the chips are down, there’s really only one Person on whom you can depend.
How do you trust in Someone you’ve neverseen? And, how do you retain hope and continue to have peace-of-mind when everything’s falling apart and those who said they were friends are nowhere around?
Those are the questions with which Job grappled during his excruciating time of suffering. And, they are questions we still grapple with—especially during the time we’re going through our “dark night of the soul.”
Yet, this week we want to look at Job’s three “friends” and why he ended up calling them “forgers of lies, physicians of no value and miserable comforters” (13:4; 16:2). In essence, he was saying what we oftenhear/say: “With friends like them, who needs enemies???”
After Job lost everything and broke out in painful boils, his embittered wife cried “Do you still retain your integrity—i.e., continue clinging to your faith? Curse God and die!” (2:9).
What an encourager! Yet, she was speaking out of her own hurt and grief, revealing that she’d likely already written off God in her own heart.
But, then, here come Job’s three “friends:” Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar (2:11a). Interestingly, it says “they had madean appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him”(2:11b). And, at the appointed time they showed up. . . “lifted up their voice and wept. . .and everyone of them tore their garments and sprinkled dust upon their heads (as a sign of their great grief). . .and sat down with him upon the earth for seven days and night, not even speaking a word to him—for they saw that his grief was very great 2:12-13).
Why, then, later on would he describe them in such derogatory ways?
Simply because they started accusing him of harboring some secret sin and encouraging him to “come clean” with God and them. Remember: Their theology was basically the same as Job’s, which said “If you do good, you get blessed; if you do bad, you get whacked.”
So, they were simply speaking in accordance to their beliefs, thinking they were speaking for God, when, in reality, they weren’t (42:7).
Oh, dear Pilgrim, how often this still happens today! Many there are who judge those around them and piously point out their faults in a critical, callused way. Instead of trying to help “bear their burdens and fulfill the Law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2)—which is the “Law of Love”—they accused and basically condemned Job in his suffering. . .over and over again.
No wonder he called them “liars,worthless doctors and miserable comforters.” We would have to!
Yet, their tribe is still alive andwell. They’re the ones who come to us and with stained-glass voices say “Now, now, dear friend, It’s all a part of God’s Plan. If you’ll simply have enough faith, you’ll be healed!”
Makes wanting to slap them upside the head a part of God’s Plan, doesn’t it??
It’s easy to be condescending toward others when everything’s going good for us. Pride expresses itself in a lot of ways and how we need to “bridle our tongues” (James 3:2) when others are having a rough time—particularly if we’re spouting out Scriptures left-and- right—for so often that does little to comfort them; in fact, it’s like throwing a concrete block to a drowning man.
Much better is simply going to them. ..sitting quietly with them. . .occasionally reminding them of Christ’s Presence with them. . .and then mowing their grass, washing their dishes, sweep their floor, take out their garbage, etc., while they wait in that hospital room or ICU waiting room.
There’s no doubt Job’s agony of soul and anguish of mind were increased by his three “friends” insinuations and accusations. And, there’s no doubt Job’s defense of himself was rooted in self-righteous justification rather than God’s vindication (32:1-2).
But, later on, the Lord said “Job did speak Truth on My behalf even though he didn’t understand why he was suffering so” (42:7c). Here’s hoping He can say the same of us in our dealings with others by our being quick to intercede and slow to criticize.
(NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 582, Coushatta, LA 71019 or e-mail him at email@example.com).