Right Statement, Wrong Context

Camilla Griffith

Day: 5 | Plan: Suffering and Sovereignty

Today’s Reading : Job 5

Job 5:17-18 (NIV) “Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.

We’ve all been near those who are hurting and felt the strain of wondering what to say or do. Deciding whether you’ve said or done too much or too little can feel weighty.

In spite of the challenge, joining others in their dark places is both a privilege and pain of being a Christian.

After the staggeringly quick loss of his family, wealth and health, Job and his friends spent seven days and seven nights in silence together. (Job 2:11-13) Job broke the silence with an anguished lament (Job 3) and Eliphaz is the first of his friends who dares to speak into the situation. Eliphaz’s argument isn’t a complicated one. He believes that Job is suffering because he is being disciplined for some secret sin. (Job 5:17)

While this is a perfectly reasonable explanation for some instances of suffering, it isn’t what we know to be true about Job based on God’s conversation with Satan. (Job 1:8) From Eliphaz’s perspective, Job’s suffering was an agent of discipline and punishment. But not only that, it would be an instrument of growth. (Job 5:17-26)

Eliphaz gives a right statement in the wrong context. Discipline is a blessing, but Eliphaz does not have the authority or knowledge to declare that Job is being disciplined. Suffering is an instrument of growth, but Job is currently at his lowest and weakest point and a long way from his highest growth.

Eliphaz was given an incredibly beautiful opportunity to speak encouragement and truth about God into Job’s life at his most vulnerable, and he didn’t do it. He instead took the opportunity to correct Job.

When talking to others about their hurts and suffering, we must be incredibly careful how we encourage them. What we believe about the origin of their suffering will change the way we interact with them. It can seem helpful to try and figure out a reason for suffering, but honestly, we don’t have that answer. Instead of speculating about the reason why they are suffering, we have the opportunity to support and love them and, most importantly, point them to the greatness of God. (Galatians 6:2)

I doubt Eliphaz was being intentionally malicious, but he was being prideful and thoughtless. He had no way of knowing God’s greater plan and by speculating, he unintentionally brought more suffering on his friend.

Bearing one another’s hurts is one of our greatest privileges as a family of believers. But instead of bearing Job’s burden, Eliphaz added to it.

Let us go forward with the heart to lessen each other’s burdens through the incredible compassion of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promises in the midst of suffering. Thank You for a community of believers who are here to encourage us and remind us of Your goodness. We pray that we will be sensitive to Your Holy Spirit as we approach those who are hurting – that we may be instruments of Your peace. Help us to seek Your will. We love You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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