Job’s three friends came and sat silently seven days. In this they did well. When they did speak, Eliphaz, likely the oldest, spoke first, “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty” (Job 4:7). You must have done wrong, Job. What else explains the suffering? The other two, Bildad and Zophar, concur. This is the simple religion of easy equations. We like simple religion. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” the disciples asked Jesus (John 9:2).
The problem was Job was “a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8). Those were God’s words. The friends were sure they had Job, and God, figured out. “They are ashamed because they were confident; they come there and are disappointed” (Job 6:20). They were actually sad that Job was not bad because it meant their religion was not safe from suffering and it scared them. “For you have now become nothing; you see my calamity and are afraid” (Job 6:20-21).
Jesus answered his disciples question, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). Jesus did not explain suffering, he entered suffering; Christ and a cross, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 11:2). A suffering Savior for a suffering world, who teaches us how to “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4). But Job’s friends kept talking.
My God, You became like me and took the cross of my making. You bore my sin and died my death. In a world full of suffering, You gave me hope for the future. May I now become like You and embrace the suffering of others, coming alongside them and sharing this same hope.
You have taught me a deep joy and a powerful peace that strengthens me when I face trouble. I know I can rely on You because You have gone before me and overcome. You are my strength and my Savior, and in the midst of a world in turmoil, in You I can by silent and find rest.