Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?– Job 4:7
In this verse Eliphaz is speaking to his friend Job. I think he has come to comfort Job, but early in the visit, he is giving some bad theology to his suffering friend. He is basically saying, “Job, you are suffering because you must have done something to offend God.”
There are times where I have believed this. It is basically the Hindu and Buddhist doctrine of Karma where your actions eventually get what they deserve, good or bad. The last time I believed this was when my wife and I experienced our second miscarriage. I was certain that my two babies died because of my past sexual sins. I just knew God was punishing me and, what could I say? I deserved it.
Job teaches us something though. The Bible is clear that he was an upright and blameless man. Yet, evil is convinced that Job is only upright and blameless because God is protecting him supernaturally. God decides to give evil its way with Job. Job loses his family and his health so suddenly. Yet, in all that, Job never blames or curses God. He wishes he hadn’t have been born, he questions God, but he never denies Him or blames Him for what is happening.
Eliphaz believed in the same God as Job, but He believed wrongly. Surely he had heard the story of Cain and Abel. Abel didn’t do anything wrong, but Cain still killed him. He had a simple example of where the “upright was cut off.” I know Eliphaz didn’t have the first two chapters of Job like we do, but right before his very eyes, was an innocent man suffering. In the distant future, Jesus, God Himself, would be sentenced wrongly, beaten, and crucified.
Whether we like it or not, suffering is a part of this world. Nobody is immune, though it does seem that there are different degrees of suffering. I believe it is all a test. Can you learn to trust God, serve God, and love God during your brief sojourn on this planet? No matter what, can you believe that “all things work together for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose”? (Romans 8:28) If you do, others have no choice but to be amazed at your countenance and attitude. It points to the fact that there really is a peace that passes all human understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
It is interesting to me that the early church rejoiced when they suffered. They counted it pure joy to be able to suffer as their Lord did. Yet, here we are trying to avoid suffering for dear life. A Christian who embraces suffering is unstoppable. May we stop looking for answers that we will never find this side of eternity and just trust, love, and serve God with everything we’ve got. Our time is so short.