Stop Speaking About God: Job 42:7-9
The counselors…mouthed many correct theological statements, but without living knowledge of the God they claimed to honor. Job spoke to God; they only spoke about God. Even worse their spiritual arrogance cased them to claim knowledge they did not possess. They presumed to know why Job was suffering.Footnote from NIV Study Bible
I confess that I am guilty of the same mistake that Job’s friends made in response to his sufferings. As a clinical psychologist, I have been trained to answer the question of “why” in response to suffering. Most patients seek therapy as a result of something going wrong in their life. Clients and therapists make the assumption that therapy will help people identify the cause of their suffering and present a solution to resolve it.
Job’s entire story is a direct challenge to this very assumption. He was a righteous man afflicted by immense loss and hardship. The opening sentence clearly states that Job was a blameless and upright man, who feared God and shunned evil. Job’s friend, Eliphaz, compliments him for being a pious man; For providing instruction and support to others in their hardships (Job 4:3-4).
Job’s suffering was not a punishment of sinful behavior that needed to be corrected. When God enters the story He reprimands Job’s friends for speaking out of turn. They made the assumption about the “why” behind Job’s suffering and gave advice on how to resolve it.
Stop talking About God and Start Listening
As I was reviewing Job’s story I found myself confronted with my own failing of trying to “create wisdom.” Instead of going to the source of wisdom, I will begin with human knowledge and assumptions. Instead of asking God for answers, I propose my own answers without listening. In creating content for Holistic Ambassadors, I am beginning to realize how great of a temptation it is to create knowledge instead of listening to God’s direction.
The distinction between talking about God as opposed to talking to God really resonated with me. When talking to God, I’m always surprised by what He teaches me. I then feel inspired to share what I’ve learned. Anything else probably just comes from human folly.
Listening Leads to Surrender
Then Job answered the Lord: ‘I am unworthy-how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer- twice but I will say no more.’Job 40:3-5
The book of Job never provides the reader with an explanation for Job’s suffering. God does not provide Job with answers to His questions. Instead God challenges Job’s right to demand an answer. In many ways, it is an unsatisfactory ending to the story.
Job is unable to respond to God’s challenge and surprisingly declares himself unworthy to question God. He even goes on to repent for speaking about what he does not understand (Job 42:1-6). Through this personal interaction and conversation with God, Job fully and completely submits to Him. Job’s surrender was made possible by his willingness and desire to talk with God instead of about Him. Let us go and do likewise.