Silence | After Job lost his family and wealth in a single day, his friends immediately came to his side and mourned with him: “When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great” .
Theology | Then Job spoke, “Let the day perish on which I was born” . At this point, his friends felt that they needed to say something. They needed to correct him. Eliphaz went first. He argued the mainline theology of the day – that those who suffered must have done something to deserve it: “Who that was innocent ever perished? … As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” . Then he arrogantly and superficially recommended, “As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause” .
Patience | Job struggled with the simplicity of Eliphaz’s reasoning because he knew that he hadn’t committed some extraordinary sin that merited his suffering. He needed Eliphaz’s friendship, not theology. As he said, “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty” . He wanted some slack: “Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind?” . In other words, when he lamented the day of his birth, he wasn’t aiming for theological accuracy. He didn’t need Eliphaz to jump on him. He needed him to let his words go. In their friendship, there would be plenty of time for Eliphaz to determine whether Job’s words were the true convictions of his heart that needed correction or mere words of his despair that would blow away with the wind.
Prayer | Lord, It would be great if we were careful with our words in our despair so that we never said anything wrong. Yet, we’re not like that. We feel things in our suffering and overstate things in our confusion. Therefore, make us patient with those who suffer. Today, especially as we recognize that the innocent suffering of Christ completely defeated Eliphaz’s theology, make us careful and humble in our assessments of others’ suffering. Help us mourn with those who mourn. Amen.
This reflection is dedicated to all my friends to whom I’ve played the Eliphaz. Thank you for your patience with me! Even writing this brought tears to my eyes for the many mistakes I’ve made over the years. I love you. BLJ
 Job 2:12-13 ESV |  Job 3:3 ESV |  Job 4:7-8 ESV |  Job. 5:8 ESV (For the reader of Job, there is much irony in this statement. After all, the reader knows that Job has been chosen to suffer precisely because the Lord considered him to be “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned way from evil.” Job 1:1 ESV. God even said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Job 1:8 ESV.) |  Job 6:14 ESV |  Job 6:26 ESV