There is Promise in Pain (Week Fourteen)

Originally published Friday, 27 October 2017.

Week Fourteen Study Overview: Today we meet Elihu and find out what he thinks regarding Job and his friends.

Key Point of Struggle: When facing tragedy, we often forget the wondrous works of God in our lives.

Key Proof of Comfort: John 10:10 tells us we are meant to have abundant life.

  • If you haven’t read Job chapters 32-37, now would be a great time.

After hearing so much from Job’s three friends, we find out in chapter 32 that there is someone else on the scene. His name is Elihu, and if you read him like I do, you might find him a bit arrogant. The speeches he made have been heavily debated among scholars. The reason for strong argument is because when God becomes vocal with Job near the end of the book, Elihu is not mentioned with the other three friends. We aren’t sure exactly where he stands with God. Theologians are still desperately trying to figure out the significance of what he had to say and why.

In chapter 32, he begins contradicting Job’s three friends. The men stopped replying to Job’s defense, so Elihu seizes the opportunity to speak up. He made his feelings known about how disappointed he was with what these men, who were much older, had to say.  He obviously thought age contained wisdom. I think we can all agree that it depends on the individual, right? Now, before you start cheering in response to someone other than Job telling these guys off, you need to know that in chapter 33 he makes some strong opinions toward Job. He tells him he needs to repent, and shouldn’t demand an answer from God.

In chapter 34, he gives us a little sermon on God’s justice and sovereignty. As we move into chapter 35, we see he doesn’t believe any man could have the ability to be righteous. Shortly after, in chapters 36-37, he speaks of the Almighty’s goodness and majesty. This guy had a lot to say and didn’t hinder one word. Once again, throughout his speeches, we become acquainted with a bit of sketchy theology mixed with some nuggets of truth.

Elihu’s appearance in the book is interesting because it provides a pause within the constant dialogue between Job and his friends. It’s after this that the heavens broke loose, literally. God came out of the whirlwind. We will get to that next week. It’s awesome!

In the meantime, now that we’ve discussed context, let’s dig deeper into one particular verse.

“Listen to this, O Job; stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.”

-Job 37:14

I’m just wondering how often any of us actually take time to reflect on those words from Elihu? How often do we simply standstill, sit still, or lie still, and consider the astounding works of God? In my life, I’ll be honest and tell you it’s not nearly enough. I study the word, pray, and thank God for who He is, but lately I’ve been in the middle of crisis. Today would have been my brother’s 34th birthday, and I can’t wish him happy birthday. I can’t take him to Red Lobster, which is where he loved me to take him on his birthday. I can’t buy him a gift or hug him. I can’t do anything today but miss him.

In the midst of all that, it’s easy to forget the wondrous works of God. My focus seems to easily shift to what I don’t have rather than what I do have.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.

-John 10:10

The enemy of our souls would love for us to focus solely on what seems missing rather than the abundance of life we are meant to live. On Friday’s Word for Your Weekend Video we are going to examine this passage of scripture in John along with what comes next. For today, I would love you to do this:

  • In your journal, make a list of what you have rather than what you don’t have. Focus on writing a short prayer of thanksgiving for each person, place, or thing on that list.
  • Challenge yourself to consider the wondrous works of God.
  • If you’re having a tough time with this because of whatever hard issues you’re facing, find a time and place to be still and ask God to remind you of who He is.

We serve a God who does not disappoint. Job’s friends disappointed him, but next week, we will find out that God never disappoints. Never ever.