Monday, April 20, 2009

Beware the Wise Man

It's been way too long, and I'm sorry. But here we are, Job 33, yet another example of just how dangerously close to the truth utter foolishness can come. Job was done talking. His friends were done trying, except for one. Elihu was determined to stay on mission. He was determined to verbally batter Job into submission. The only thing Elihu cared about was Job's repentance.

Well, maybe he cared about more than that. Maybe, like so many well intentioned friends dispensing counsel to beleaguered sufferers everywhere, Elihu cared for his friend's soul. Maybe he wanted to do the right thing. Maybe love drove him to say what he said. But I don't think so.

Elihu's so-called wisdom (I mean, for real, he called everything he was saying wisdom) was more likely motivated by selfishness and a false sense of security. Job's assertions—that his pain had nothing to do with any sin of his own—would force Elihu to accept things about God that he just couldn't believe. Would God really allow the righteous to suffer? Surely not. Would God turn silently away from His beloved child's tormented cries? Impossible. Would God afford affluence to the wicked and permit devastation to the good? Inconceivable. Those things just don't mesh with God's good and holy nature.

So Elihu laid it out plain and simple for Job: God isn't being silent. He's speaking through your pain. Your wounds and  your loss are His words. And if you're lucky, there's an angel somewhere pleading for you to have a second chance. All you have to do is admit that you were wrong.

Elihu made that self-righteous argument as if it were coming straight from the lips of the Almighty. He wasn't done. He goes on for five more chapters. Maybe that's what makes this so hard to keep going through. Maybe I'll just skip it.

But no. Job had to endure it. I can't complain. I just hope I can avoid being the one forcing someone into repentance when my own is long overdue.

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