February 12, 2019
The Bible teaches that all of God’s people should trust in Him, not in one another. The scriptures explain that Jesus Christ is the Rock of our salvation, and that the wise person is the one who builds their life upon the foundation of His essence by faith. The fool is likened to the one that builds their life on “the sand,” trusting in the ability and faithfulness of flawed people and brittle worldly standards and philosophies. Those who rely on self and others usually find themselves disappointed at some point in time. The scriptures explain that life is hard on account of the suffering all people have to deal with. The testimony of Job shows that suffering comes to all people for varieties of reasons. It is a futile effort to know the exact cause of all suffering. God has His reasons, and is not obligated to share those reasons with us. The scriptures are helpful to explain the ultimate purposes of God, in that He desires to teach us things concerning Himself through our suffering; things that can’t be learned except by suffering. Still, God doesn’t always divulge all of the details for His work nor the purposes for it. This can make things confusing in times of pain and sorrow. Still, those who seek to rely on anything or anyone besides God are setting themselves up to compound more confusion, which can intensify the suffering and discomfort.
The testimony of Job 6:14-30 explains these principles. The Bible states that Job did not respond kindly to the “encouragement” of Eliphaz. Though Eliphaz meant well, his words were accusatory. Eliphaz and his other friends did well to just sit with Job in silence for a week, simply offering quiet company for Job. However, when Eliphaz sought to address Job’s sorrow and pity, his desire to help was used as a tool of the devil to accuse Job of hypocrisy. Eliphaz did not totally rely on the Lord for his words, found himself speaking foolish and incorrect things based on his limited understanding, and Job’s response shows that he caused more harm than good. Apparently, Job’s other friends agreed with Eliphaz so that Job felt like he was being attacked by those who were supposed to comfort him as friends. Job explained his perspective.
The testimony of Job 6:14-30 explains that Job expected his friends to be kind and merciful to him with their words simply because he was suffering. Here, the Bible shows that all people, whether believers or non-believers, are deserving of kind words in a time of need. Job did not say he had forsaken the Lord, but admitted that even those who do forsake the Lord should be treated kindly when suffering. The Bible shows that this is simply a humane way of treating people, whoever they are. Whether carnal or spiritual, anyone suffering is deeply wounded from within and should be treated with mercy, compassion, and gentleness so as to not further deepen the wound. Job felt that the words of his friends weren’t in line with this sort of kindness. It wasn’t kind for Eliphaz to accuse Job of being a hypocrite and demand immediate repentance for sins not committed. It was not kind of Job’s other friends to agree with Eliphaz’s words. Job was in enough pain, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Yet, his friends were the ones that amplified the pain by accusing Job of being something he wasn’t. Even if Job was guilty of certain things, the time of Job’s most intense suffering was not the proper time to address it. Job’s remarks to his friends explain that this was supposed to be a common truth that all people knew. Nevertheless, Job’s friends weren’t considerate of this truth at the time of Job’s greatest need.
Job explained that his friends had treated him “deceitfully.” It was not the intent of Job’s friends to be deceitful, but that is what transpired because of the self-righteousness of Job’s friends. This shows that, even when intentions are good, the actual help that is provided can be used as a tool of the devil to cause divisions when the Lord is not the motivator AND manufacturer of the work/words. Job felt like his friends deceived him, not because they conspired against him previously, but because of the way things seemed. Job’s friends originally showed up to offer comfort and remained in silent support of Job for a week. However, the first words uttered to Job were against Job. It seemed to Job as if his friends were just waiting for Job to be in his weakest state so that they could lash out at him. Job compared his friends to a brook in the wilderness. In one season, the brook is flowing and gushing with water, but in the time of summer, the water dries up and the brook is just a crevasse of mud and rocks.
Job compared the friendship of Eliphaz and the others as a journey that travelers take, depending on the water supply of the brook. When they travel in winter when the brook is gushing with water, they are confident in the water, but not in need because of the abundance. When the travelers go the same way in the summer, the waters are dried up and the travelers confused. The waters that were there before can’t be found, and the scorching sun puts them in desperate need of a resource they were counting on. Job’s friends were like the brook. Job felt like things had changed when his circumstances changed. When he was rich and well taken care of, the waters of friendship were gushing and overflowing. There wasn’t the need of close and intimate relationships during Job’s season of prosperity, but the friends were there. When Job’s suffering came and Job needed close companionship and mercy from his friends, like the brook, the waters of friendship were dried out, leaving Job thirsty and continuing in need – unfulfilled.
Job’s remarks show the folly when we depend on others. Though Job’s friends meant to be helpful and do well for Job, they were harmful to him. Job was not satisfied by the presence of those who were supposed to be helpful. Job was not healed by those who were supposed to be comforting. Job didn’t get the support he thought he would get from those he felt were best qualified to give it. This shows that all people are bound to fail our expectations, especially in times of need. To depend on people to do that which only the Lord can do is bound to set us up for disappointment and confusion. Job’s suffering intensified because his expectations too high. His trust was in the wrong place. Though Job did not go out hunting for the help of his friends, when it was offered, he received it as if mere men would be able to satisfy the soul and give peace and rest like the Almighty God. We can’t expect people to do God’s job. If God uses people to do His work in our time of need, so be it, and praise God for it. However, to constantly expect people to be the extension of God’s hands to perfection is not wise. People disappoint, and Job’s testimony proves that as true.
As a result, Job felt that his friends were nothing. This is obviously an overreaction to Eliphaz’s comments, but this is what suffering does. Suffering intensifies emotional responses so that overreactions are common and to be expected. Job’s friends weren’t literally “nothing,” but this was how things seemed to Job. Once again, the Bible exposes the folly of trusting in people to do the work of God. Job’s comment shows that those who were once valued, become as nothing when circumstances change. Since circumstances change, the value of people constantly changes. At some point in time, those who are good for one thing will be useless in another thing. People are not omniscient like God. People are not omnipotent like God. People are not omnipresent like God. When we are in need, we would be wise to trust in the Lord with all of our heart. God is the Rock of our salvation. People are compared to reeds and sticks. When a person places too much weight on the reed, the reed will inevitably break at some point, causing the person to lose balance and possibly fall. Since Job’s friends were unable to successfully console Job, they had become like nothing to him. The false accusation of Eliphaz caused Job to make a false accusation of his own.
Job continued to defend his position. When his friends arrived, Job did not ask his friends for anything. He didn’t even speak for a whole week. Job didn’t ask his friends for money, for medicine, or for revenge against the raiders that slaughtered his servants and stole from him. Job stood his ground, trying to convince his friends that his misfortune was not the result of specific sin or fraud against God. Job was so confident in his position that he pleaded with his friends to show him the specific place of his error. Job was open to hearing if he had made a mistake that he had not realized before. Job as willing to accept fault for something if fault could be proved. Though Job had misplaced his trust and put too much stock into flawed people, he remained humble in his suffering. He didn’t consider himself blameless to the point that he felt he was free from guilt of anything. Job confessed that he was willing to accept blame for anything that could be proved. He asked his friends to teach him and provide understanding about the specific errors he made that caused his suffering. Job knew there was no specific issue, but was willing to admit to one if there was.
Job felt that the false accusations of his friends were too much to bear and inconsiderate to the highest degree. Job compared himself to a fatherless child, but one that was overwhelmed by his friends. In that culture, a fatherless child was the most pitiable person there could be. Yet, Job felt as if he was in that position and just trampled by his friends. This shows that, those who feel the pity of a “fatherless child” should remember our Father in heaven. Though the efforts of others to help in our time of need often fall short, the hand of our heavenly Father is never short, His ear never stopped, and His mercies never fail. When our trust is put in the right place, we prevent ourselves from further suffering through disappointment and confusion.