This week I did some reading from the book of Job. One of the thoughts that comes to mind when I think about Job is his friends, who sit with him as he suffers and then begin to offer him their wisdom. I have this default idea that the "wisdom" of his friends is not really wise and that perhaps Job would understand his circumstances, and the God who is always present in them, if his friends would just keep their mouths shut and let him grieve and process things on his own time.
That is kind of my default about Job's friends, but on closer examination it just isn’t true, at least not all of the time. Sometimes when Job's friends speak, everyone should listen. I saw that this week as I read Job 4:17, where his friend Eliphaz says:
"Can mortal man be in the right before God?
Can a man be pure before his Maker?"
Whoa! We can read Job's story and think that God has acted beyond what is reasonable in allowing the tragedy that has come upon Job and his family. Or closer to home we can think that perhaps God doesn’t really understand something that is going on in our lives or in the world. God should have intervened sooner. God should have understood how hard this season of life really is. God should not be absent as so many things are piling up on me. It is so easy for us to think that in all things we know a bit better than God and that maybe he should check for our advice before doing whatever it is he will be doing next.
But Eliphaz grasps that there is a fundamental difference, a clear and unambiguous distinction, between Creator and created. And that difference should guide the way that we approach God, no matter what are circumstance are.
The song may say with a measure of truth "I am a friend of God" but he is not the kind of friend we joke around with at school or work. First and foremost God is, was, and always will be God. Therefore our approach to him should always have reverence for who He is, which is as Eliphaz noted, has a purity that on our best days on earth we will never come close to having.
This is Job's God, who loves him in the midst of tragedy that defies human understanding. May you know and love Him as your God too. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.