I kind of like Job’s friends. They heard their friend was in trouble and they went to him. I don’t know how far they traveled but I know they didn’t catch a flight or take the turnpike. Going to Job was probably not an easy thing to do. But they went because their friend was hurting.
When they saw how much agony Job was in they just sat with him. For seven days and nights! They sat without trying to fix Job or make him feel better. Talk about support, sensitivity, love. These guys had it all.
But then they opened their mouths. I’m sure they meant well. And some of what they said is true. But they would have been more helpful if they had remained silent.
Eliphaz starts off by suggesting Job’s troubles were a result of sin in Job’s life. (He didn’t know about the conversation between Satan and God which started the whole thing) Eliphaz believes Job is being punished for some horrible deed he has committed. After all, he says… Who, being innocent has ever perished? Were the upright ever destroyed?
Um… yes. Babies die. People are killed for proclaiming Christ. Bad things happen in a sinful world to both good people and bad.
Here’s the other thing. We all deserve to be punished. There is no one righteous… not even one. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. If God treated sin with disease, death, and tragedy there wouldn’t be anyone alive today.
But God longs to treat sin with grace. He took on himself the punishment for sin and offers forgiveness to anyone who asks. There are consequences for sin in this lifetime, of course. Whether it’s weeds growing in a garden, broken marriages resulting from infidelity, diseased livers from abusing alcohol, and everything in between, sin has devastating results. I worked for a principal who often talked about ‘natural, logical consequences’. If you put your hand in a fire you will get burned. If you don’t do your homework you will fail. If you jump off a cliff you will get hurt.
What God wants us to know is that He is not up there with a zapper, waiting for us to mess up so He can inflict harm. He wants us to know He is a loving God who is rooting for us to do the right thing. He doesn’t take any joy in seeing us suffer the natural, logical consequences for disobeying Him.
There are no guarantees that if you are good, good things will happen. There is no promise that if someone is unfair to you, something bad will happen to them. There is, however, a guarantee that no matter what happens in this life, God is standing next to us, ready and willing to help us get through it. God wants us to see Him, not the situation. He wants us to experience His strength when we have none of our own.
Thank you, Lord for grace. For forgiveness. For your love and care. And even when things in this life go wrong, may we trust you. Give us the ability to use our life experiences to proclaim Christ. May the choices we make today honor You and enable us to live healthy productive lives for Jesus’ sake.