Made for This (Job 5:6-7)

For affliction does not come from the dust,
Nor does trouble sprout from the ground,
For man is born for trouble,
As sparks fly upward.

Job 5:6-7

We’re still dealing with Eliphaz in these verses and he is still “comforting” Job. What stuck in my craw about this guy’s words is that God will, at the end of the book, say that this guy and the two other friends did not speak rightly about God. Eliphaz sometimes manages to hit on something true — see his statements in this same chapter about God’s reproof and how God does great and unsearchable things — but in the midst of his right is a fair bit of wrong. Take this pair of verses for example.

The word used for trouble in verse six could also mean toil or labor. In either of those contexts, the statement is somewhat true. Mankind was created to work. Rewind (chronologically) to Genesis and the creation of the world. God creates this gorgeous garden and places mankind in the garden to cultivate it and keep it (Genesis 2:15), thus affirming that mankind is created to work. Was this work toil or labor? I don’t know. The curse leveled at Adam — Cursed is the ground because of you; / In toil you will eat of it / All the days of your life. (Genesis 3:17) — seems to indicate that the work was not particularly laborious before the curse. So, while mankind was created to work, the work was not meant to be burdensome or laborious. I am blessed with a job that I usually enjoy. There are days I do not enjoy and people who are challenging to get on with, but the work as a whole is pleasant to me. This means that my work seldom feels laborious. That, I think, is what mankind was created for: work that is challenging enough to be engaging and difficult enough to tire us in the best possible way. But that, I must emphasize, is my opinion.

In a similar fashion, Eliphaz misses the mark when he says that affliction does not come from the dust and trouble does not come from the ground. Go back to the curse Adam had handed down to him and you see that it was the ground that was cursed and that Adam’s labor became much more laborious. In light of that, the ground does, in fact, produce trouble (same word used for trouble here as in the following verse).

The last and most egregious error (in my opinion) is that Eliphaz implies that mankind is made, is created to suffer. He says that man is born for trouble, [a]s sparks fly upward. Really? We are born for trouble? Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God’s workmanship (Greek poiema: masterpiece; root word of our English “poem”) and that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand for us to walk in. Sure, mankind was created to work in the sense that God did not expect us to be a bunch of freeloaders loafing around the Garden of Eden expecting everything would just drop into our laps. In the perfect place populated by perfect people, work is present. Work is not evil. In fact, God has good works prepared ahead of time for us to do. I don’t know what good works He planned out for me, but I know He has them all prepped and ready for me to walk in and do my part. Will I have trouble in this world? Absolutely. Jesus promised me that I would. He added that I should be of good cheer, because He had overcome the world. So, I will have trouble, but Jesus has it handled.

The world is full of people who want to tell me that God created me for trials and tribulations and trouble of various kinds. They’re full of fluff and nonsense. There are folks who want to tell me that I am the product of a sequence of cosmic accidents that all managed to result in this thinking, feeling, generative being who looks up in wonder. They are also full of fluff and nonsense. I am made by a loving God that I might love Him and be loved by Him. I am here for good works and the greatest of all good works is to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. The greatest of all good works is love. Love. I was made for this. We are made for this.

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