When friendly help is no help at all…

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Job 4:1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered: 2 “If one ventures a word with you, will you be offended? But who can keep from speaking? 3 See, you have instructed many; you have strengthened the weak hands. 4 Your words have supported those who were stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. 5 But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. 6 Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope? 7 “Think now, who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? 8 As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. 9 By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger they are consumed. 

Job has suffered greatly in the first three chapters of this book. He has lost all 10 of his children and now suffers terribly in his own body. Here his frend Eliphaz offers this not-so-helpful interpretation of recent events. He makes two points here:

First, Eliphaz suggests it’s high time Job follows his own advice (v.4-5). He’s supported others in their despair but seems unable to stand in his own time of need.

Second, v.7-8 place the blame for his tragedy squarely on Job. If God offers good things to good people and bad things to bad people – then Job must have been bad indeed.

Some friend.

Lord save us from those who want to heap guilt on us when we endure hardships. Amen.

2 thoughts on “When friendly help is no help at all…

  1. Dan Hays

    Ernie, in my part of the world it’s all too common for such “friends” to offer similar advice. “I wonder why God is so mad at you,” was the comment a friend offered to a woman whose family was going through Job-like suffering. That “advice” is closely connected to two understandings of God: 1) God is in control of every little detail and facet of life, thus ALL things always happen as part of God’s plan 2) God’s wrath is kindled by sinful behavior and this results in human afflictions, disease, and tragedy for the sinner(s) in question. Someone recently told me this, in response to my insistence we observe all precautions when groups gather at the church: “Pastor, you can take all the precautions you want, but if you’re meant to get COVID, you can touch a doorknob while wearing gloves and still get it.” It’s as if such people have never spent any time at all in the book of Job–and if they did, they failed to see themselves in its mirror.

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