Good advice, gone bad
“If only he would tell you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom is not a simple matter. Listen! God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve!“ – Job 11:6 NLT
Wow! What an encourager Zophar is. He steps into Job’s miserable life and offers up carefully chosen one-liners designed to shake Job out of his self-righteous self-denial and forice him to confess his obvious guilt. Zophar, like his friends before him, has taken a look at Job’s circumstances and concluded that Job has done something terribly wrong. He is being punished by God for his sins and all Job has to do is confess and turn back to God. God will forgive him and God will restore him.
Sounds great, but there’s only one problem. Job is innocent. He has done nothing wrong to deserve all that has happened to him. He has nothing to repent of. He is confused, hurt, alone, and suffering from unimaginable grief. And all he gets from his friends is accusations of his guilt. Zophar takes the rhetoric to a whole new level, accusing Job of being deceitful, evil, and witless. “Surely he [God] recognizes deceitful men; and when he sees evil, does he not take note? But a witless man can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt can be born a man” (Job 11:11-12 NIV). In Zophar’s mind, Job is nothing more than a dimwitted, stubborn sinner who refused to admit his guilt. In Zophar’s world, all pain and suffering was tied to sin. Righteous men don’t suffer. Good men don’t lose all their worldly wealth. Sinless men don’t have all their kids killed in a single freak accident. Therefore, Job was NOT a righteous man. Case closed.
But once again, Zophar didn’t have all the facts. He was operating off of conjecture and faulty conclusions. The one thing he should have known and somewhat assumed is that God is in control. But the issue was not whether God had caused what had happened to Job, it was that God was aware and that He cared. Zophar would have been much more help to Job if he had simply reminded Job that only God knew the real reason behind his suffering. So he needed to take his situation to God. Only God could help. If Job had sinned, God would reveal it to him. If Job was innocent, God would ultimately disclose the reason behind his suffering. Bottom line? There was a purpose behind it all. And God was behind the purpose.
In the midst of all his pain, Job knew that God was there. He called out to Him. He appealed to Him. He acknowledged that God had made him (Job 10:8-9). But Job was confused. He hung on to his innocence, but was having a hard time understanding why he was having to go through all this pain. He was going through a terrible time of questioning and doubt. He needed comfort and all he got was some pretty callous counseling. He needed empathy but all he got was impatient friends demanding that he confess. Job’s suffering was so intense that he longed for death. At this point in his life, he needed friends who would point him to the mercy, grace, and sovereign power of God. He needed guides to God, not the grand inquisition. He needed to be reminded that God loves him, not loathes him. The only remedy for anyone’s pain and heartache is God. We need to point them to Him.
When darkness falls
And all around me seems undone
You hear my pleas
Supply my needs
And tell me of Your wondrous love
You are the joy in my morning
You’re my song of praise
Just like the new day dawning
Flooding my world with grace
Though trials come
And every one
Can take me further from Your truth
You calm my fears
Dry all my tears
And draw me closer, Lord, to You
In You there’s no shadow of turning
Constant in all Your ways
You’re growing my faith
And I’m learning to lean
On You all of my days
© 2008 Sovereign Grace Ministries
Father, help me a friend that points others to you, instead of always trying to point out their faults or their sins. You alone know their hearts. You alone can heal their hurts. I am simply a guide who can show them the way back to You. In the midst of the pain that enters my life, may I always turn to You first. And when I find it hard to do, please bring friends into my life who will remind me of Your love, grace, and mercy. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men