Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Study of Job: Good Men vs. Evil Men

In chapter 4, we see Eliphaz's response to Job's speech (ch. 3) and his current situation. Eliphaz is of the belief, as many people are today, that good and godly men should be happy and should be protected from harm by God. Unfortunately, this belief does not fit with his understanding of Job and the recent tragedies that have touched Job's life.

While many of us may see Eliphaz's ideas as rudimentary and even foolish, I believe that we all subscribe to the belief of good reaps reward and evil reaps punishment to some extent in our lives. Our basic knowledge of good and evil pushes us in this direction. But, God does not always work that way.

Wait, what?!

You mean that our good and gracious Heavenly Father does not always reward the good and punish the evil?

In an eternal sense, yes, He does work that way. And this is why it is important to have an eternal perspective on our lives.  However, He does not always reward the good and faithful in this lifetime. In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus uses the story of servants who faithfully serve their master to illustrate how God rewards His good and faithful followers. Their reward came when they returned to their master, and God also rewards His faithful followers when they return to Him-forever.

So what does this mean for Eliphaz and Job? Job's suffering has rocked Eliphaz's world. It is not in his ability to comprehend that a good and godly man should be suffering in the manner Job is, and then Job's speech in chapter 3-a speech of sorrow and frustration-further upsets Eliphaz's worldview. To Eliphaz, a man like Job should be protected and should be joyful; but, what he finds is a broken and bereaved man who is crying out to God.

Eliphaz spends the first 13 verses of chapter 4 seemingly arguing with his own perceptions of good and evil and how God works into all of this. Job 4:6 says:

"Is not your reverence your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope?"

I find this verse particularly poignant.  It seems to sum up Eliphaz's ideas about good and evil and how these forces work in the world. He is asking Job, "Shouldn't you be happy? You have done good deeds in your life and lived uprightly so you should have hope and confidence?". But Job is broken and weary. He is not confident and hopeful as Eliphaz believes a man of God should be-even in the most troubling of circumstances.

Don't we do this? When brothers and sisters in Christ are struggling and suffering we offer tidbits of "Biblical wisdom". 

  • "God will never give you more than you can handle"
  • "If God brought you to it, He'll bring you through it"
  • "God's got this!"
  • "God will use this for good, He has a purpose in what you are going through"
While these are lovely sentiments and some of them may even have scripture-based truths contained within, they don't allow much room for human brokenness. Sometimes we just "fix our make-up and hide our crazy" (although, I think this process has been ingrained in Southern women for generations!). God encourages us to surround ourselves with fellow believers so that we can find support amongst them when we are suffering. It's okay to be broken sometimes. It's necessary to be broken sometimes.

I prefer the following tidbit of "Biblical wisdom":

Show your crazy. Be transparent. Be vulnerable. Be Job.