The Wrong Diagnosis

Bible Reading: Job 11; 12; 13; 14 - Listen

Zophar actually shares some very insightful wisdom with Job. He speaks of the unfathomable mysteries and infinite greatness and power of God (11:7-9). He also gives this beautiful exhortation: "Put your heart right, Job. Reach out to God. Put away evil and wrong from your home. Then face the world again, firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more. Your life will be brighter than sunshine at noon, and life's darkest hours will shine like the dawn. You will live secure and full of hope; God will protect you and give you rest" (11:13-18 TEV).

Though Zophar's words reveal some wisdom, his presentation reveals a great lack of discernment. I am astounded at the brashness and insensitivity of Zophar's words. Because God's truths are wrongly applied to Job's situation and presented so arrogantly, Job also finds them extremely offensive and judgmental. Listen to the sarcasm in Job's response: "Doubtless you are the people, and wisdom will die with you! But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know all these things? ...If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom" (12:2-3; 13:5). Job likens his friends to worthless physicians who deliver the wrong diagnosis (13:5). He points out the shallowness of those who have never endured hardship. "A person who has an easy life has no appreciation for misfortune. He thinks it is the fate of those who slip up" (12:5 GW). Job tells them to be quiet and just let him try to sort through his feelings by talking out loud.

Even in Job's despair, he hangs on to his hope in God. "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (13:15 KJV). However, his hope is being worn down by his continual suffering, just like a mountain is eroded by weather and a stone is worn down by water (14:18-19). Job wonders if his only hope is in the resurrection of his spirit, when God welcomes the creation of his hands back into his arms and covers over Job's sin. "My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin" (14:17). We no longer have to wait until death to have our sins sealed up and covered over. We can now have confidence that our sins are covered by Jesus' atoning blood that was shed for us on the cross; they are no longer held to our account if we simply believe in him and accept his gift of grace and forgiveness.

Lord, give me wisdom, discernment and sensitivity when I talk to those who are hurting. Let my words be soothing and strengthening, not judgmental and offensive. Help me to be "quick to listen and slow to speak" (James 1:9) when a friend just needs to verbalize her fears and doubts to someone who will listen. Let my trials deepen my character and yield compassion for those who suffer. Lead me to find hope in you when all hope is gone.