The Fuel For Perseverance
February 7, 2019
The Bible teaches that God is “wonderful.” The scriptures teach that one of the defining traits of the Messiah would be that He is “wonderful.” This word means that God is full of wonder. In other words, He is hard to comprehend. The prophet Isaiah wrote that God’s ways are not like our ways, and His thoughts are not like our thoughts. His ways and His thoughts are as far from ours as the heavens are from the earth. The scriptures teach that God’s ways are high above ours and past finding out. This all simply means that we can’t really understand what God is doing, even if we can identify His work. The Bible explains God’s objectives. The Bible even explains how God is going to do a lot of the work that He promises. Our struggle is understanding how God does what He says. Our lives feel like they’re filled with problems, yet the Bible teaches that God is good and is working all things together for good. It’s hard to harmonize these ideas together because we can’t see the full scope of God’s work through the lens of our flawed human perspective. Therefore, we’re called to simply pursue knowing who God is, and trust that His character is good enough to fulfill His good promises, whether we understand how or not.
The testimony of the Book of Job is perhaps one of the best books of the Bible that shows just how hard it is to deal with the challenges and trials of life while trusting God. It is hard to understand how to apply our knowledge of God to the circumstances we endure. For example, Job’s friend Eliphaz was clearly a man that understood some of the most important attributes of God. Yet Eliphaz struggled to understand how to leverage that wisdom in a helpful way for his friend. Job was suffering and in intense pain. Eliphaz wanted to help. However, Eliphaz didn’t understand why God was doing what He was doing to Job. Eliphaz made assumptions about God’s work and the purposes for it, but he was wrong. Eliphaz accused Job of hypocrisy and tried to convince Job that his suffering was on account of certain sins in Job’s life. This wasn’t true. So, while Eliphaz knew things about God, he didn’t have God’s full wisdom and perspective to know how to make his knowledge of God helpful. Those who have knowledge of who God is must also rely on the Lord to make that knowledge fruitful.
The Bible shows that when Eliphaz stopped making guesses about Job’s situation and just talked about the Lord, his words were far more profitable. The testimony of Job 5:8-16 shows that Eliphaz encouraged Job to seek the Lord. Eliphaz counseled Job that no one but God could help because of the intensity of Job’s circumstances, so Job would be wise to seek the Lord in humility. Eliphaz then went on to explain who God is, so as to motivate Job to pursue Him. Eliphaz stated that, if he were Job, he would seek the Lord and commit his cause to God because of who God is. Eliphaz admitted that God’s work is hard to understand, but that’s why it is profitable to seek Him. God’s work is great and the greatness of His work is immeasurable both in quantity and quality. Eliphaz was reminding Job that God is able to change Job’s circumstances and provide mercy. Whether Job understands how God might perform such a miracle is not a prerequisite for God to work. God never needs us to understand how He works in order for Him to do good. God does good whether we can explain it or not because its who He is.
Eliphaz reminded Job about the scope of God’s greatness by speaking about God’s power and authority as the Creator and Sustainer of all things. God is the one who gives rain on the earth and sends water to the fields. By extension, crops grow, and the living creatures God made are able to eat and live, both human and otherwise. Without God’s command of the clouds in the sky, the fields would go dry, the food would be scarce, and famine would destroy life on this planet. It is the gracious hand of God that causes all of the natural occurrences in this planet so that there can be life. If not for God holding all things together as He does, life would not exist. The manner in which some people live, with comfort and excess, is a testament to the extent of the power God has to extend favor. A God who has such control over the rains and clouds of the whole earth is certainly qualified to deal with our personal issues, either through healing and restoration, or by simply providing the strength to endure the circumstances. God’s power and control as Creator is not so weak that our personal issues stumble or challenge Him.
Eliphaz also reminded Job about God’s character concerning how He deals with people. God not only provides the means to live, but takes special care and attention for those who are humble and needy. God is merciful and compassionate. Though God was the cause of Job’s suffering, enabling Satan to inflict pain in his life, God was not harsh to leave Job to fend for himself. Eliphaz reminded Job that God exalts the lowly and comforts those who mourn. Though Job’s life was hard at the moment, Eliphaz reminded Job that God’s nature would not allow Job to remain in that condition forever. Job was lowly at that time in his life. God’s nature is to exalt the lowly, so Job could anticipate God’s exaltation at some point in the future. Job’s life would not be defined by his demise. Likewise, God comforts those who mourn. Job was mourning at that time in his life. Therefore, he should have expected the comfort of God because it is in God’s nature to offer comfort. Job’s life might have been hard, but the whole of Job’s existence would not be known for his misery. God’s character wouldn’t allow it. Eliphaz was wise to counsel Job to seek God. This is who God is, and Job would profit greatly by remembering God’s nature, whether God changed his circumstances or not.
Eliphaz also explained that God is all-knowing and full of wisdom to exercise great sovereign control to benefit His people. God knows about all things that are done at all times. God is aware of the wickedness of all people, whether it is done in secret or in the open. God catches all people who plot and scheme for their selfish gain. God is able to see into the hearts of people who devise plans to exalt themselves at the expense of God’s people. God is able to exalt the lowly because He is able to judge the proud and self-righteous. God knows how to balance things out according to His righteousness. His judgments are always right because He knows the truth of all things. From the perspective of Eliphaz, if Job was guilty of secret sin, his sin was found out because God knows all things. However, since Job had been humbled, God is compassionate to restore. Yet, it was not true that Job was being punished for secret sin. Nevertheless, the character and nature of God was still helpful to Job. Since God has wisdom to see into the hearts of all people, He would know that Job was blameless. Since God is righteous and just in His judgments, He would see Job’s faithfulness and humility. Since God is compassionate, He would provide the mercy that Job needed.
These were the things Job needed to remember. Though Eliphaz’s speech was still accusatory, his statements about God’s compassion, mercy, power, control, wisdom, righteousness, and justice were all true. No one knew whether God would immediately restore Job or not, but it didn’t matter. God doesn’t need to change our circumstances to help His people. Remember that God was seeking to reveal things about Himself to Job that could not be understood unless Job experienced difficult circumstances of suffering. How could Job learn about the compassion and mercy of God if he didn’t live in a pitiful condition? How could Job learn about the power of God if he wasn’t in need of strength? How could Job learn about the sovereign control of God if Job didn’t require help beyond his capacity? How could Job learn about the wisdom of God unless he found himself in a state of confusion? How could Job learn about the righteousness of God unless he experienced a season that seemed wrong? How could Job value the justice of God if he did not live through circumstances where God could advocate for his benefit? It is our remembrance of who God is that causes us to endure life’s difficulties since it is those difficulties that teach us about the incomprehensive greatness of God that transcends our issues.