Eliphaz returns to the stage of Job the musical, having sung before in chapters 4-5. Gone is his earlier sympathy for Job. Now he does not hide his contempt. He declares that Job’s words can do no good (v. 2). Eliphaz will no longer sit with Job’s grief.
Job’s complaints make Eliphaz nervous. He thought he had God all figured out: God makes the righteous profit and the wicked suffer. But Job, who is suffering terribly after numerous disasters, clings to his innocence. If Job is right—that he is suffering due to no fault of his own—then Eliphaz does not have God all figured out. Job’s anger at God creates a faith crisis for Eliphaz.
How would you deal with someone’s crisis if it called your own beliefs into question? We live in a society where people and their families are hurting from addiction, sexual assault, fears of being deported, rejection for being gay or lesbian. They are not an issue or controversy; they are people who need compassion. It is hard to empathize with people if their crises shake the foundations of our own beliefs. Fear consumes compassion. But “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Eliphaz decides to attack Job in order to protect his own beliefs: Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; your own lips testify against you (v. 6). In this man’s view, Job must have committed sins, and therefore Job’s words are windy, full of hot air (v. 2). Eliphaz is more interested in being right than being in relationship. Jesus shows us a better way by caring for hurting people, especially when the religious people of his day called them sinners. Jesus is more interested in connecting with people than in winning an argument.
How might calmly listening to another’s struggles and caring for them, even when it challenges your beliefs, make your faith stronger?
God of love, help me to see you in all the people that I meet this day. However they make me feel, renew your love in me so that I may share your compassion. Amen.