Remember now, who [ever] perished being innocent?
Or where were the upright destroyed?
The answers to both of these questions are not what the asker expected them to be. The innocent perish all the time. There are stillbirths, children are killed in wars, people who did not commit a crime are convicted and the sentence carried out. The upright are also destroyed all the time. In point of fact, the upright are killed so frequently that a verse in The Bible speaks of how the righteous are, for the sake of God and their testimony, like sheep to be slaughtered. This verse is spoken once and quoted elsewhere. Eliphaz needed better information.
Which brings me to what I caught as I read this. There are an awful lot of misconceptions about God and about how things work. I mean, not too long ago, I fumbled around trying to figure out how much of the OT Law (the Ten Commandments are universal, so that was never in question) applied to the modern believer. I thought one thing and then another. It wasn’t until I was talking with one of my brothers (brother-in-law and fellow believer) that it occurred to me that The Bible had already answered the question. Prior to that epiphany; that moment that I finally heard what God has to say on the matter, I had all sorts of misconceptions about what applied and why. Since there’s a scriptural backing for where I draw the line now and —possibly more importantly —that scriptural backing is, in context, an answer to the very question I was considering, I can safely conclude that I have been disabused of that particular misconception. But I’m sure I have others. Many others. And that is both the danger and the intrigue of pursuing a relationship with infinite God. He. Is. Infinite. I’m not. As I seek to know Him and grow close to Him, new things will become apparent. Before marrying my wife, I did not really understand how deeply and abidingly apathetic she is about whether or not the toothpaste tube is squeezed from the bottom or not. And that is just one of a myriad of things I learned when our relationship went from “dating” to “married.” In between, there was this phase known as “engaged” which revealed still other things about my wife and who she is to me (I’m sure these phases have done the same for her). And that’s kind of the point. In any relationship, misconceptions about the other are inevitable. We know enough to love that one and fill in the blanks with things that make us love them more. The reality may not jive.
How I deal with being disabused of my misconceptions is the application to this. Will I become disillusioned; shocked that the God I love is different than I thought Him to be? Or will I accept that God is Who God is and incorporate the new piece into the whole of the God I know and love? At the end of the book of Job, Eliphaz will get a verbal smackdown from God for not speaking rightly about God as Job does. Job will say a fair few foolish things before the book is done, but God says that Job speaks rightly about God. Job knows God and incorporates the new information into the whole. Just as a loving husband does with his wife. Just as a loving parent does with a child. Just as a loving child — a more apt comparison — does with their parents. I’ve learned things about my parents that I label TMI (too much information). But those things are part and parcel of my parents. I do not love them any the less for being more or other than what I thought as a child. I simply add that new (to me, they’ve known it for years) information. I need to be the same with God. When one of my misconceptions is destroyed, I need to thank God for helping me know Him better and add that new (to me) piece to the puzzle that is God.
One last note before I close up, this morning. C.S. Lewis wrote, in The Four Loves, that a person’s friends bring out new facets of that person. So, my wife brings out certain facets of me. My daughter brings out others. My sister, still others. So it goes until we realize that getting together all of these people who know me in different capacities and relationships will show things about me that may seem contradictory or may simply furnish those who know me with a more complete picture. In either event, all of those facets are me. Getting together with other believers and sharing what God has shown us of Himself is a way to begin destroying the misconceptions that plague us all. When I sit and chat with my brothers-in-law about God, we learn about God and about each other by comparing notes about the God we love. Our understanding of Him is richer for the time. A side application is this: I need to spend time comparing notes with other believers. Each of our relationship with God will be richer for it.