Reading Through the Bible, Monday, May 16. Job 8-10

    Have you the patience of Job?

    In a way, most of us do.  When bad things happen to us, we whine and blame God.

    That’s certainly what Job does.

    Chapters 4-31 contain three rounds of speeches made by Job and his friends.  Job is in the position of criticizing God.  Job’s friends are in the position of defending God.  But what both provide for us is an overview of how mankind think about God.  Their views are far from accurate, as we can all tell because we are looking at the story as “observers.”

    Job has blamed all his trouble on God, and in a way, Job is right.  If the Lord and Satan hadn’t gotten into a spitting contest, Job wouldn’t be in this fix.  Whether he knows it or not, Job is collateral damage.  But since he doesn’t know, he blames God directly: “IF I have sinned, what have I done to you?” he says to God.  “Why don’t you just forgive me?”

    Job’s second friend, Bildad, is more direct than Eliphaz has been.  In his view, all this is plainly Job’s fault.  “Surely God wouldn’t reject a blameless man” he says.  But Job seems rejected, therefore, Job must not be blameless.

    Notice two things happening in these conversations: First, no one is speaking out of first-hand knowledge about God.  The writer doesn’t have to make that point obvious.  As readers, we get it.  Let that be a lesson to us.  Never presume to speak about what you do not know – especially if it is about God.

    Second, no one is listening.  Job’s friends will attempt to summarize his thoughts, but they are far wide of the mark because they are not listening to Job – and Job isn’t listening to them.  To be a good communicator, we have to hear people’s hearts, not just their words.  Remember that when someone in pain is pouring out their heart.  Listen to the heart.  Because that’s what God is listening to.