Today’s reading Job 4-5 and Acts 2:1-41.
“If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking?” (Job 4:1).
So it will all begin. Many words will be spoken, many thoughts shared and many challenges raised. Job in chapter 3 was wrong and so it would not be hard for Eliphaz or any friend to speak and appear to be right. His words and many of the words that follow seem appropriate and on the money. The Apostle Paul would even quote them in 1 Cor. 3:19. For example, “Who, being innocent, has ever perished?”
But it is important to keep in mind that the overall purpose of the book of Job includes the concept that Job’s friends, the counsellors, were also fundamentally wrong (see 42:7-8). Words spoken can often appear right, yet with further reflection you can see flaws in the logic of that which is spoken. There is truth when you read, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. (5:17).
What Eliphaz didn’t know, was God’s hidden purposes for Job. Therefore, all his wonderful words and beautiful poetry ended up becoming a trap or snare for Job. Yes, the words spoken were good to contemplate, like the disciplining aspect of suffering, but these words in the long term did not apply to Job. His last words in 5:27 would have not only stung Job, but I also believe irked him as they seem so patronising.
The thought for me that comes from theses two chapters is how careful we must be in how we counsel people in pain. It does us well to remember to point out what you think is the bleeding obvious to you, may not actually be the case at all.
Seek the Spirit’s guidance, listen more, walk closely with the person suffering and then and only then if you still feel the need to speak, be very gracious with your words.