Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: TALKATIVE (09/08/16)
TITLE: Garrulous Friends
By Elaine Hemingway
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Then Eliphaz could keep quiet no longer wanting to share his thoughts. “Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can a man be more pure than his Maker?” he asks, and proceeds to give his advice. “if it were I ---,” he proclaims in chapter 5:8-27 ---“hear it and apply it to yourself.”
Job refutes his comments as unhelpful, and asks if they can look him in the face and accuse him of anything. In his depression he thinks he will never know happiness again, but at least his friends have drawn forth speech, making him think and put his thoughts into words.
Then comes Bildad with his ideas that Job’s children must have deserved punishment for something they had done, but telling Job to keep going, for God would yet give him something to laugh about as an antidote to grief, for God would not reject a blameless man.
In semi agreement Job considers what he knows of God; His creation, His provision and the fact that He can do anything He chooses. But then he realises there is no way that God can be challenged, which makes him feel small and insignificant.
How great the power of words! Power to build or to destroy. Then in comes Zophar with his platitudes. Does Job presume to understand the mindset of God? He should be devoting his heart to him so he can be rewarded with forgetfulness and security.
Job is incensed at the callousness of his friends, (and it is easy to say things in haste, although they had reached speed slowly) for they had failed to empathise with him in his distress. He doesn’t want their ideas, but some high spots come out in his reply.
“Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him” Though he wonders about God and His ways he accepts that though they are different from his expectations he is prepared to wait for enlightenment.
Eliphaz comes back, running out of patience, with Job firing back with his “Miserable comforters you all are. Long winded speech makers who think you know it all. What if the roles were reversed and I could choose to bring comfort and encouragement.
One after the other the comments continue, with Elihu chipping in with his contribution. Give them their due; they didn’t have the back story which we have the advantage of knowing. But we can certainly learn from their mistakes. We need to pause and consider before offering too much advice. Let’s not talk ourselves out of the wisdom that is available for us because of the redemption we have received, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit as guide and real Comforter.
God speaks in a whirlwind with a long speech that humbles Job and leads to his repentance and realisation.
“My ears had heard of you,” he said, “but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” He prayed for his friends and the Lord blessed him with twice what he had had before.
Can we read again the story of Job and learn from it? To trust and obey after perseverance and commitment, leads to peace and contentment. No matter what others say!
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