Job 4-7: With Friends Like This, who needs . . .


Job 4-7: Reading for Tuesday, January 6th, 2009


It is very easy to stand in judgement over those who have experienced circumstances in their lives that are filled in pain and misery.  While this is true in our day, it was just as common among the ancients.  There is a brand of theology that exists today which perpetuates the so-called the properity gospel. This theology teaches that God’s greatest desire for us is that we prosper and are filled with lives of good health.  While these things are good, and had been what Job experienced in is life prior to the great collapse of his life, this is not what he experienced afterward.  God’s greatest desire for us is not that we are healthy or wealthy (as good as this may be), but that we be like his son Jesus Christ.  The rest of this book could almost be looked as the anti-prosperity gospel as it exposes the reality that there is much more going on behind the scenes of our lives than that which meets the eye.


In this section we find a huge slap in the face of Job which will take up most of the rest of the book of Job.  The character that we are immediately introduced to in this section is Eliphaz, the Temanite.  This section begins a series of conversations between Job and that will eventually three more “friends”.  Job  has just lost his children, his wealth, his health and now he has to sit and listen  to these guys make the argument that God blesses with health and wealth those he loves and punishes those who are not in a right relationship with himself with poverty and sickness .


There is one section in today’s reading where we can get a flavor of the great disappointment Job experienced as he began to hear the words of his friend Eliphaz in 6:21-30.


Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid. 22     Have I ever said, ‘Give something on my behalf, pay a ransom for me from your wealth, 23     deliver me from the hand of the enemy, ransom me from the clutches of the ruthless’? 24     “Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. 25     How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove? 26     Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat the words of a despairing man as wind? 27     You would even cast lots for the fatherless and barter away your friend. 28     “But now be so kind as to look at me. Would I lie to your face? 29     Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake. 30     Is there any wickedness on my lips? Can my mouth not discern malice? (NIV)


So what does this section teach us and what lesson will we learn over and again in this book? When someone else is suffering and there is no direct link to any unwise action, let us be careful not to judge.  Moreover, when someone else is suffering, even when there is a direct link to the suffering and some particular behavior or action (non-action, etc.,), let us be graceful.  When we approach the difficulties of others in this way, we will have the opportunity to be an agent of healing to that person’s life.  May God make us more and more, a people of grace. 


John Feinberg is one of the leading experts on the whole subject of the problem of evil.  In 1987, he received stunning news that brought the entire subject to a new level in his own personal life.  He discovered that his wife was diagnosed with a genetically based debilitative disease.  In the following, we have an excerpt on how he has dealt with these painful circumstances.  


“Although I had spent much time in my life up to this point thinking about the theological problem of evil (I wrote my doctoral dissertation on it [at the University of Chicago]), I couldn’t make sense of what was happening. How could this happen to us when we had given our lives in service to the Lord? I knew that believers aren’t guaranteed exemption from problems, but I never expected something like this. I was angry that God had allowed this to happen. . . While there are still many things about our circumstances that I don’t know or fully understand, I do know some things with certainty. I know that throughout eternity I’ll be thanking God for the wife and family he gave me and for the ministry he has allowed us to have in spite of (and even because of) the many hardships. I am so thankful that God is patient with us and always there with his comfort and care” (quote taken from an article written in on the Suffering and the Goodness of God; Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson Editors/

I pray that God will give us all the same courage and wisdom to look at our times of suffering and the suffering of others through a similar lens. This is something Job’s “friends” couldn’t seem to do.  Let us not forget the words of our Lord, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt. 5:7; NIV).


2 Responses to “Job 4-7: With Friends Like This, who needs . . .”

  1. alex youngberg Says:

    Very good job, pastor bruce!!!!!! i really liked what you said at the end of the Bible passage, where you said to not forget the word of God in matthew 5:17 when He said to bless the merciful and they will be shown mercy. i congragulate you again on how good the Bible passage was, and thank you for adding the part with John Feinberg. i am sorry for him and his wife, because they both need to go through each day wondering if God will take her now, or wait for a later time and purpose. what is the diseas called? did you find out what it was, and if you did, could you put it in tomorow’s “The Chronological Bible Project? if you could, i would be very happy. Congragulations again on a very good bible passage. hope that you had a great time in chicargo over the christmas vacation. hope that you have a good day off tomorow!!! Sincerly Alex Y.

  2. Bruce Smith Says:

    Thanks Alex, Dr. Feinberg truly has set a great example for all Christians who face intense suffering.

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