Scripture Focus: Job 12.2-3
2 Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you!
3 But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know all these things?
Reflection: Unhurried Wisdom
By Erin Newton
Consider the cliche: Out of sight out of mind. Now, consider this: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. So, which is it? Forgetfulness or fondness? These are modern phrases. However, the book of Job also utilized opposing statements to reveal the complexity of life and necessity of wisdom.
One of the struggles while reading Job is that the statements made by his friends are often valid comments holding truth in some aspect or another. These short statements and concepts are true but not applicable in all situations. So, what is the problem with their advice?
We have been privy to the opening scene of God and Satan. Imagine removing the first few verses from chapter 1 and reading the story without the prelude about God allowing the testing of Job’s faith. Would you not also be suspicious of what he had done to deserve this?
Zophar made statements such as “God has forgotten some of your sin” and “If you lift your face to God, you will be free from harm.” At the core of these statements is true theology: the forgiveness of sins and the security in the arms of God.
What we know of these friends is that they are all God-fearing men. They speak of things that are true and seem to place their faith in God. But they still give bad advice, tactless encouragement, and sometimes traumatizing remarks.
Job’s response also focuses on truths about God. Zophar has suggested that God allows suffering because of man’s sin. Correct. Job suggests that God allows suffering for reasons outside our ability to understand. Correct. Wisdom involves living in the tension of two seemingly opposing truths. Wisdom involves taking time to understand the situation and knowing which truth to apply.
If we are not presently in Job’s position, we are one of the friends. The world around us is constantly suffering: racial tension, economic hardship, mutating viruses, abusive bosses, wayward children, dementia, loneliness, sexual abuse, cancer, addiction. We must wisely speak truth to our hurting friend.
Wisdom is not a character trait abruptly gained. In our quick paced world, we forget to think before we speak. Sometimes we want to be the first one to reply thinking our promptness is a signal of our virtue. We might speak rashly and say something true, just like Job’s friends. But if our truth is received as trauma, we have missed wisdom entirely.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I will bear witness that the Lord is righteous; I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High. — Psalm 7.18
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Job 12 (Listen – 2:21)
Psalm 19 (Listen – 1:52)
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Read more about Adding Insult to Injury
There’s no nice way to say this, but Job’s friends are jerks. Maybe they mean well…It’s like one “bad take” after another.