No neat answers - Hope 103.2

No neat answers

By David ReayTuesday 7 Jan 2014LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Job 15:7-13

 7 “Were you the first person ever born?
       Were you born before the hills were made?
 8 Were you listening at God’s secret council?
       Do you have a monopoly on wisdom?
 9 What do you know that we don’t?
       What do you understand that we do not?
10 On our side are aged,gray-haired men
       much older than your father!

11 “Is God’s comfort too little for you?

        Is his gentle word not enough?
12 What has taken away your reason?
        What has weakened your vision,
13 that you turn against God
        and say all these evil things? (NLT)

These words are spoken by a man called Eliphaz in response to Job’s anguish. It is a representative example of the approach taken by Job’s comforters. It belongs to the ‘pull yourself together and listen to what I am saying’ school of counselling. It majors on robust advice that may or may not be biblical. It tends to seek solutions to the problem and become impatient with those who don’t quite see the solution in those terms.

At the end of the book of Job,God offers no such solutions. He simply reminds Job of his presence and his greatness. That seems enough for Job who all along wasn’t wanting a philosophical answer to the problem of suffering. He was wanting assurance of God.

We can so easily be tempted to come up with the ‘magic bullet’ solution when confronted with others’ pain. We figure if we can locate an explanation we can overcome the pain and even avoid such pain for ourselves. We figure we can make the world manageable by seeing things in black-and-white terms. We become like Job’s comforters: do the right thing and the right things will happen to you.

Beware of such neatness. True,sometimes there are pretty plain answers to some issues. But more often than not things are more complex. Offering a neat explanation may make you feel better but the sufferer feel worse. God didn’t offer Job explanations but gave Job himself. We might think of doing likewise with our suffering acquaintances.