Short daily devotionals for the socially distanced. These are thoughts from my daily time in the word. I use a bible reading plan that will have me in a different section of Scripture every day.
I hope they serve to give you courage and hope. You can subscribe to receive them as a daily email at the bottom of the page.
Wednesday, April 8th
Reading: Job 34-36
Just a very brief one today from an extremely mysterious section of Scripture.
Job’s friends, and especially Elihu are such a strange case study. Elihu is a youngster, relative to the rest, and so he is the last to speak, but when he does speak, he bursts forth in anger and a fairly prolonged rant against Job and his apparent faithlessness. He strikes me a little bit like a young man who stumbles into Calvinism for the first time. Extremely passionate, very vocal, long-winded, lacking nuance, and rapidly running out of friends to yell at.
Here are a couple of lessons I learned from Elihu though.
In Theology, You Can Be Right About Some Things and Wrong About Others – So Be Humble
Elihu says a lot of things about God that are right and true. He waxes lyrical about God’s righteousness and justice, and How God does not and will not act in a way that is wicked. He affirms that God hears the prayers of His children and responds to the call of the righteous. He correctly calls for a posture of humility and repentance before the Lord. Well done Elihu. Those are all correct.
He is flat out wrong on some other things about God. He equates suffering with punishment and seems to have very little understanding of how suffering can be used by God for the refining of His people and the advance of His covenant purposes. He tells Job that God doesn’t listen to half-hearted cries, and that Job is doing no good in waiting on the Lord for a response. This isn’t true according to what we know of God in the Scriptures. He hears the faintest cries of the broken-hearted and moves mightily in the lives of those who wait on Him, even if they wait in brokenness and lament. He doesn’t break bruised reeds. He doesn’t snuff out flickering wicks.
Elihu is right and wrong in his theology. I am sure that I am right and wrong on my understanding of how God works in the world. The answer isn’t to be defeated in my quest to know more, the answer is to be humble and reverential in my theology, not holding my system of understanding about God in the place of God Himself.
In Friendship, You Can Never Fully Know What is Going On With Someone – So Be Kind
Elihu thinks he is being very loving to Job. He is staging an extreme intervention of sorts off of the information that he has. Here is the problem … he doesn’t have all of the information, and he can’t, because none of them do.
In our dealings with people, there are always hundreds of other things going on that we cannot see, and that is before we even get to the thousands of things that God is working in people’s lives that we don’t have access to.
Be patient with people. Be kind in their suffering. Accept the limited nature of your understanding. Good friends can listen, they can correct through what they know, and be present and patient advocates in what they do not.
Dear friends. We are being humbled right now on a global scale. Let us be humble, gentle, empathetic and patient learners, who are full of faith, and also full of humility.
Courage, dear friends.