Job went on a bit of a tear in chapters 12-14, all of it boiling down to a few key themes: (1) Job has done nothing to deserve what is happening to him, (2) his friends are terrible comforters, (3) he wants to talk with God and plead his case, and (4) his suffering is such that he wishes he were dead. These are the themes to which Job returns over and over in this book. But Eliphaz responds in chapter 15. Eliphaz asks if a wise man should speak empty words (he should not) or if the consolations of God are insufficient for Job (they are quite sufficient, but the friends are not offering them) and offers his own observations on what happens in the world.
Eliphaz seems to be spiraling out further from reality. He perceives what the friends are saying as the consolations of God. The major problem with that is that God is, according to Corinthians, the Father of Mercies and God of all Comfort who comforts us in all of our afflictions so that we may, in turn, comfort others with that same comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). At the end of Job’s suffering, God does speak and comfort Job and Job is able to turn around and bless others in that time and place. But Job’s friends are not offering him comfort, they are offering platitudes and clichés.
Eliphaz goes further and states that God puts no trust in His holy ones. This notion presupposes that God would need to extend trust. Trust is a byproduct of uncertainty. I do not know what a person will do, but I trust that they will behave according to a set pattern that I have observed. I do not know that the chair I sat in this morning is still intact, but I trust that it is. God has no need of trust. He already knows. He knows when I am going to obey or disobey, He knows when I will make Him proud and when I will disappoint Him. He knows everything. Knowing everything obviates the possibility of trust. So Eliphaz, far from being innocent of speaking worthless words, is doing so himself.
I do not want to revisit Eliphaz’s observations, but it is sufficient to note that he has, apparently, only ever seen the just rewarded and the wicked suffering. He has had, to my mind, a very sheltered life. I have seen the wicked prospering in their ways (just look at government and big business) and have seen the just and good trodden down. David will later write that he never saw the righteous forsaken or the son of the righteous begging for bread, and I can wholeheartedly agree with David’s observation. But Eliphaz has been insulated from reality or has seen it through a lens that saw wicked men as having done nothing wrong. After all, no one is the villain in their own story.
This boils down to me keeping silent when dealing with a person who is suffering. I do not always have the words of comfort. If I do, I should give them. I have endured some things and can state, without a single doubt, that God is able to see us through. In those instances, the comfort I can offer is that God is there and that He will provide comfort and strength and walk with us in those dark places and be Himself the light that we need to see our way through. Many years ago, my youngest sister died and I can state, with complete confidence, that God can get us through the departure of a sibling.
Father, thank You for the times You have walked with me and comforted me. Please show me when and where I might offer that same comfort to others.