1/7/14

eliphaz

He had shown such beautiful selflessness, expressed most intimate love, been faithful in the dark and in the awkward and the heavy and then he spoke, and why did he speak? Because his friend had cried deepest anguish and expressed such hulking depression and he thought it would be awkward to not respond? he thought it would show him weak or unintelligent or foolish if he didn't muster up some words---any words---in response? Oh, Eliphaz. The words you say to fill in empty space hold little substance.

And yes, the motive might have been thoughtful; you wanted to counsel Job, soothe his rightfully aching heart. But the words you said, the doctrine you proclaimed, was far from what is true.

The age old question of why does bad happen to the good is long and worn out. And still little response has been posed. Because I do not know the mind of Christ fully. You do not know the mind of Christ fully. John McArthur, John Piper, C.S. Lewis, Paul, James, John----none of them knew the mind of Christ fully.

And because I do not know, I cannot know, I question the God who said to Moses that he has made men mute or deaf or seeing or blind (Exodus 4:11). And I wonder why the blind man from birth, the man who had never known a sunrise or a mother's smile or a playful smirk, had to be that way to give God the glory. Couldn't he have been well off and seeing and through that give God glory? No, I do not know, I cannot know. And just like me Eliphaz could not understand why Job had such unfathomable pain inflicted upon him, such unimaginable loss. And the only response he could stutter up in between the questions and the unknowing was that Job must be living in sin and must confess.

But Jesus suffered most unbearable pain, faced gash deep rejection, and so must he too be living in sin and confess? The words sound blasphemous to the ear because they are.

And yes Job is not holy, not perfect, never can be, but if Jesus can face these trials and be without sin does that mean Job can be enduring pain because it is necessary? And if we were to go further we look at eleven of the disciples dying at the hands of murderers for their faith---for doing what is right.

But Eliphaz, stuttering, foolish, just-like-me Eliphaz. In between the talking out of one's ass and the untruths, you say things that make me stop in place, do a double take and ask if Eliphaz really just said that. Because out of his mouth is not just foolishness, but some wisdom and yes, there is redemption and yes God can speak through the fool if one is willing to hear.

Because if some wise uttering can come from the foolish than surely here is the proof: "surely vexation kills the fool," he speaks, "and jealousy slays the simple." And oh I have known the truth of these words. I have experienced the crushing of life that comes from anger and malice, I have been the jealous fool being killed by my own envy.

And the cause of Job's trials has none to do with some sin (for did not God bring up his name, give Satan the go ahead to put him through such trial, because he was so trustworthy and steadfast on God?) but Eliphaz your words still strike the heart because of their truth: "As for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause..." because isn't in the seeking of God that he draws near? Isn't it in the staying on him that gives us perfect peace?

And surely C.S. Lewis was right when he said that badness is only spoiled goodness because in the midst of the bad theology of this man, there is truth and goodness and from it I glean.

So I learn from this foolish often, wise rarely, Eliphaz. I learn that just because there is awkward tension of silence in the air this does give reason to speak. Just because someone is crying or hurting or laughing or not responding does not mean I must speak to help. Sometimes it is in the silence that one is most challenged or comforted, feels most loved or most free.

And if only Eliphaz could put his thoughts up to scripture and then speak from what lines up, then maybe I and you and all of us could call this man wise, instead of a foolish man with a few wise words.


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