We are in the Wisdom Stream reading from the book of Job. We are nearing the end of the 3rd cycle of speeches. Young Elihu shares a piece of his mind about Job’s situation. We are reading from the New Century Version this week.
Job gives his final monologue in today’s reading. It is the closing words of a book named after the man who likely suffers most greatly of all the characters in the Bible before God graciously restores him with double – for his trouble – if we are allowed to say this.
Job has been stripped of everything that is and has ever been dear to him. His body and health have been attacked. His loved ones are gone. Friends are scarce. The only ones who seem to remain are those whom history has sarcastically dubbed, “Job’s comforters”. What a man needs when suffering unspeakably is a ministry of presence. A cacophony of searing words is not appropriate, not helpful, not restorative nor healing. Job remains admirable integrity to the end here. He is frank about his perspective. He has been hurt by cruel words. He is afraid, feels forgotten – even by God. He is in desolation, burning – feeling burned, and feels surrounded by wild animals. At least they aren’t killing him with words too! It is admirable that even when Job is in this state he shows candor about his sentiments. He remains vulnerable. He keeps his commitments and vows. He recites to make sure that he has not been dishonest, lecherous, unfair, callous, greedy, selfish or wrong in his heart in anyway. Job does this to the best of his ability.
Keep in mind that when he speaks about God not answering him or forgetting him or kicking him aside so to speak, Job is speaking his feelings. This is reality. (Doesn’t make his feelings the summum bonum virtous truth.) This means that Job is being frank about how he feels. This brings us into God’s presence when we are transparent about our plight, for the Lord is very near to the broken hearted. Job ends his speaking by basically assenting to say, “if I am in sin then, granted I deserve all this misery.” But in honesty he still doesn’t understand the suffering he has been put through. This is the lesson of Job’s life and the dialogue within Job; that we will need to endure things in this life that we do not understand and are not going to understand until much later – if then.
Elihu’s response is revelatory to matters of age and wisdom, and we can learn today from what happened thousands of years ago. Keep in mind that Elihu doesn’t even get to his speech in this chapter. He expends many calories getting ready to make his speech. It kind of comes across like a ‘noobie’ in church who is asked to do special music one Sunday and in doing so they nervously spend 10 minutes introducing a 2-minute song. [Get it overwith already!]
Elihu admits he in angry. Wisdom tells us that anger is not really what is going on. Elihu is much more likely frustrated as he has been struggling for solutions all these months with the rest of them. Frustration not dealt with can cause immaturity to morph the emotion into anger. This is more likely what is going on with Elihu. He wants to show Job that Job is wrong in his words and in his attitude. He is frustrated and does not have the character to be vulnerable with this. So he tells of how angry he is. This is a clear ‘giveaway’ that Elihu is the young one here. He claims he is full of words, that he is ready to burst forth with words…that he must speak.
We see this today among young people who think they are so smart and relevant because they have flocked to a new technology that they understand better than old people. Then they think they have it on the old fogey person who seems flummoxed in that particular area of life. This situation is parallel to Elihu addressing Job here because the younger may understand something or some aspect of what is happening in the world but that is zero proof of wisdom or of an ability to understand how the world works or what life is meaning for us at present. Wisdom knows when to speak, what to speak and when to be quiet. Elihu proves that he knows none of these three factors.
Jesus, send us your spirit so we may be a comfort to the disturbed who indeed need comfort from you. Let us be vessels filled with yourself so that when we are called upon, you and only you come forth from our words. Amen.”