JOB: “STOP THE WORLD, I WANT TO GET OFF!”
What’s up with Job 3–4? Job chapters 1–2 set up the story line. Now chapter 3 starts the long, complex poem where Job complains and argues with friends (the poem part finishes 38 chapters later after God speaks.) This starts the “1st speech cycle”. Job airs his grievances; the first friend (Eliphaz) jumps in; Job responds.
Digging Deeper: 1. Whatever quiet acceptance Job displayed in #1–2 is gone. He is miserable, curses, and wishes he had never been born. One rule of thumb when a person is hurting this badly, is to allow them to name their pain, and express what they are feeling. A true friend can be trusted to listen to such hurt, anguish, frustration, and even anger.
- In chapter 4, Eliphaz is the first of three friends to speak to Job. It would have been better for Job, if Eliphaz had kept his mouth shut! Without being too harsh on friends or ourselves, why do you think we have this irresistible urge to speak when someone is suffering? When is it better just to be ‘present’? And perhaps silent? A second rule of thumb when a person is hurting badly is not to say or suggest things that make the pain worse. Eliphaz hadn’t learned that!
- The assumption at work in chapter 4 is that “bad things happen because you must have done something to deserve them!” Eliphaz suggests “Job, you sinned in some way, otherwise this wouldn’t have happened!” A third rule of thumb for being a friend to someone who is hurting might be: “do not blame the victim for their suffering!” In fact, do everything you can to question the link between sin and someone’s troubles. Sin can get us into plenty of trouble, and bring painful consequences. But this is not a case of God handing down punishment. Sometimes, trouble and suffering just happen. Blaming, never helps!
- In chapter 7, Job is sarcastic and accusing in his lament to God. Which do you think is better for a person of faith: to be quiet and just accept suffering, as though it were somehow God’s will? Or to really go toe-to-toe with God and question everything? Is Job displaying a courageous faith? Or is he just a complainer?
- “I loathe my life,” Job says. Ouch! We are not in a position to ‘fix’ someone’s troubled life. But we can do something! We can show compassion. We can help in some way. We can help bear some of the burden of suffering. Romans 12:9-21 offers excellent guidance, part of which is “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Who needs you to be a friend like that now?