Job 4:5-6 (from The Message)
But now YOU’RE the one in trouble - you’re hurting! You’ve been hit hard and you’re reeling from the blow. But shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence now? Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope?
You have just GOT to love the honesty of the scriptures! Alas, the church (bless our hearts) has often done its absolute best to subvert that honesty! But here we have Job. A righteous man. A good man. A faithful man. A man that wisdom says ONLY deserves good things because he has been so good himself. (Indeed, that has been at the heart of preaching for centuries upon centuries...and is VERY much alive in the preaching of the prosperity gospel today.) But it doesn’t go well for Job...and you know the story. It all goes bad. The ONLY thing Job retains in this world is his loving wife...who tells him to just curse God and die!
Job sits in absolute agony and despair. His three friends come to visit him. It is so bad they just sit in silence for seven days. (So much for the wise pastor who knows just what to say in every situation!) Finally Job breaks the silence and essentially bewails the day of his birth. Then his friend, Eliphaz, speaks the words I quoted. They are questions for every age...especially ours right now.
Many misguided preachers (I’d be worse on them but this IS a family publication) said that God would protect the faithful from the virus. Apparently what God HAS protected us from is the regular flu because we’ve been distant, masked, and hygienic! But Eliphaz asks the eternal question: shouldn’t our holy living give us hope when we’re in trouble? Ol’ Eliphaz hits the nail on the head. Shouldn’t we be the ones with hope?
In many, many cases through my 44 years of ministry I’ve actually seen the words of Eliphaz play out perfectly. I’ve gone into horrible situations only to find that my families were, indeed, hanging in there. And as I’ve been with them, I found them more than capable of coming back. In my final moments in my churches, people came up to me to thank me for seeing them through their bad times. I told them they were inspirations to me.
So, faithful people, heed the words of Eliphaz. Let the bad times make us stronger. We aren’t out of this, yet. Life is still going to happen. Our faith is not here to protect us; it is here to encourage us.
Our patron saint songster, Charles Wesley, said it pretty well:
Talk with us, Lord, thyself reveal, while here o’er earth we rove;
Speak to our hearts, and let us feel the kindling of thy love.
With thee conversing, we forget all time and toil and care;
Labor is rest, and pain is sweet, if thou, my God, art here.
Pastor Rick Moser