Explanation Exposed

Steven Bouma-Prediger

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“Is there any wrong on my tongue?” (6:30)

Job’s three friends were doing just fine as long as they kept sitting in silence with Job. Then they had to open their mouths and spoil everything, each offering their half-baked explanations for why Job was suffering. Eliphaz goes first. He thinks Job’s suffering is retribution for evil. Job is being punished, pure and simple, and he ought to ‘fess up to his sins. “You reap what you sow,” avers Eliphaz.

But Job is convinced of his integrity. He may not be perfect, but he knows he does not deserve this suffering. And so he refuses to accept Eliphaz’s explanation. In fact, he challenges all three friends to show him how he has sinned. “Make me understand how I have gone wrong,” Job demands. But they have no response to his question. In contrast to his friends, who speak of God but never to God, Job addresses God directly. He pours question upon question to God: “Why have you made me your target? Why have I become a burden to you? Why all this suffering?” He receives no answer—for now.

PRAYER

Lord of all that is good and true, in difficult times help us to talk with you, and give us the strength to truly listen.