Hardship does not spring from the soil. It comes from ourselves, others, or the Lord. And be careful in how you characterize God in your predicament. God knows what you face, and whether he has caused it or allowed it, God can certainly overpower it. Seek him…
6 For hardship does not spring from the soil,
nor does trouble sprout from the ground.
7 Yet man is born to trouble
as surely as sparks fly upward.
8 “But if I were you, I would appeal to God;
I would lay my cause before him.
9 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.
10 He provides rain for the earth;
he sends water on the countryside.
11 The lowly he sets on high,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
15 He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth;
he saves them from the clutches of the powerful.
16 So the poor have hope,
and injustice shuts its mouth.
17 “Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
18 For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal.
26 You will come to the grave in full vigor,
like sheaves gathered in season.
27 “We have examined this, and it is true.
So hear it and apply it to yourself.”
Job 5:6-7, 8-18, 26-27
Eliphaz the Temanite continues his advice to Job in chapter 5. He and his friends, who are the group of which Job is a part, have considered the ways of God and are offering counsel to Job in his time of loss, sickness, and grief. How many times before now has Job sat with them to ponder the ways of God like this, thinking about other people and their situations? And now Eliphaz is offering such wisdom back to Job…
Hardship, we see here, does not spring from the soil. We are born to trouble. Just like sparks from a fire move upward into the sky, we are born to trouble. Trouble, though, does not grow indiscriminately from the ground. We come to realize that it comes from us, from other people, and from God. We are the active players on the field of life.
God makes the rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). God is able, however, to bring a harvest for my neighbour while ruining my crops. I may be under the correction or a test from the Lord. Yes, it could be discipline for my behaviour (see yesterday’s post on deliberately sinning against God). It could also be a test of my character, in which God has some measure of confidence in me (like Job). The outcome of my test may be the testimony of trust and faith in God in times of trouble. God sometimes wounds and then binds us up in healing. This may be my purpose in trouble.
The ways of God are elusive and higher than I am able to understand. And so, how shall I respond to my predicament? What shall I do in a time of woe?
Eliphaz’ encouragement for Job is to go to God. Appeal to him. Lay your cause before him. We saw in the previous chapter that Eliphaz has confidence in the justice of God to not punish the innocent. Here we see him go further and focus on God’s power and ability to perform wonders, miracles, and acts of blessing. Appeal to him, Job, on the basis of God’s power to help you. If it is correction from God, know that God will heal the injuries he causes you.
Then you can come to the grave in full vigor (not in the agony in which you called for your own death, Job). Deal with God directly in your time of need…
Only you and God know what you are facing today. Reading Job’s story, however, teaches us that our situations are never as simple as what the surface indicates. Be careful in how you characterize God in your predicament. Understand that even if Satan is involved, he has no power over God, and needs God’s permission before the hedge of protection around you is lowered. Consider that God may be correcting you, and realize that if he is, he can also heal you and restore you.
Therefore, go to him. Reason with God. Appeal to him. Humble yourself before him…