Day 10

Eliphaz’s Second Speech and Job’s Reply

from the Job reading plan


Job 15:1-35, Job 16:1-22, Job 17:1-16, Romans 12:9-15, James 5:8-11

BY Guest Writer

How many times has some very well-meaning person tried to assuage your heartache with words, saying something along the lines of this: “God will comfort you and see you through this. He always does.” Or this: “Just hang in there. Evil people always get what they deserve.”

Look closely, and you’ll see those two sentiments are basically parts of Eliphaz’s second conversation with Job. So why are they a problem? Well, for one thing, the latter suggests that Job must be evil too—why else would he be suffering badly? Their conversation leads to the question: How do we truly weep with, mourn with, and comfort those who are broken? How do we become true comforters? (Romans 12:15).

First, we need to read and truly absorb Job’s scorching honesty in chapters 16 and 17, where the stakes are even higher. Just a reminder: God refused to allow Satan to take Job’s life, which means Job’s torment was as bad as it could possibly get with no relief anywhere, falling just short of death—and Job couldn’t exactly turn to morphine to numb the pain. So now the question becomes one of self-reflection: If we are the ones in the fiery furnace, how do we cling to our relationship with God when it feels as if it is all going up in smoke?

These two questions are tied together, because those who weep and mourn most effectively will have climbed into that fiery furnace of suffering in some way. In doing so, they join the “Jobs” of the world. So for both situations, we wonder:

What does true faithfulness look like, both for the one who comforts and the one who suffers?
What part does prayer play in our suffering?
What does it mean to bring all our emotions—even our anger, doubt, and feelings of betrayal—before God?

After all, Job’s protests were laced with accusations. If his suffering teaches us anything, it is to strip away all pretenses—physical and spiritual. God had worn out and torn up Job, seized him by the neck and dashed him to pieces to the point that Job’s face was red from weeping (Job 16:7–9,12,16). His dark anger boiled over in agonizing questions, as he protested the stony silence of God.

Still, more than anything else, Job longed for his shattered relationship with God to be mended. He’d already sought out a mediator to bring them together (9:33–35; 16:21). He also repeatedly begged to talk with God—which he ultimately did in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Most importantly, Job returned to this understanding: his “advocate” and “witness” were set apart on high (16:19). Job remembered who he was and who he was not—he was not God. All of this points to Job’s faithfulness and his very real relationship with God.

So how do we sit with someone in their despair? How do we pray in the midst of others’ suffering, as well as our own? In my own experience, words like “Lord have mercy! Christ have Mercy!” bring me back to the truth of God’s character, of both His unfailing lovingkindness and ultimate sovereignty through Jesus Christ. Our Savior reaches through our blinding pain to comfort and deliver us. Our prayer for mercy, offered with humility and hope, binds us together before the God who comforts, even from on high.

Elaine A. Phillips received a BA in social psychology from Cornell University, an MDiv from Biblical Theological Seminary, and an MA in Hebrew from the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem, where she and her husband, Perry, studied and taught from 1976–79. She holds a PhD in rabbinic literature, and teaches Biblical Studies at Gordon College. She also serves as a historical geography field instructor for Jerusalem University College. She has published a commentary on Esther in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary; a devotional book, With God, Nothing Is Impossible; and, most recently, An Introduction to Reading Biblical Wisdom Texts.

Post Comments (52)

52 thoughts on "Eliphaz’s Second Speech and Job’s Reply"

  1. Louise Halliday says:

    When situations and circumstances are so devastating beyond belief and your family is torn apart, your children have anxiety and depression, you have significant health issues that could take your life, when your child says I pray to God but he does nothing, he doesn’t care about me, when you struggle to put one foot in front of the other, when Christians don’t talk to you because they don’t know what to say, when your children are excluded by other Christians because of poor decisions made by their father, it’s really hard just to focus on the loving kindness of God.

  2. Amanda MarieO'Malley says:

    Instead of being against each other we need to pray for one another. Lifting each other up

  3. Amber Herrick says:

    So touched by the reminder remember who you are not! I needed to hear this

  4. Steph C says:

    “I wish that someone might arbitrate between a man and God just as a man pleads for his friend” (Job 16:21). Jesus is our advocate, our mediator. He stands before God every moment pleading my cause with His blood. ❤️

  5. CIndy says:

    How do we sit with someone in their despair? Sitting with someone in despair is difficult for me. Times like that I like to sit and listen to whom ever I am with or just be silent. Job (13:5) told his friends just that. I don’t feel I have the right words to help their suffering. I will pray with them should they ask me. I will even look up verses in the bible that may comfort them. But sometimes just holding their hand is the best that I can do.
    How do I pray in the midst of others’ suffering…as well as my own? I honestly don’t know. I pray in silence by myself somewhere private. I would like to think that I would ask God for mercy for them and I would pray in Jesus Christ name. I have a saying that I found somewhere it says; God does not give you what you can handle. God helps you handle what you are given. I think this would apply to me and the suffering I have or would receive. Like Job praying to God. I like to talk to God and say thank you for listening Lord.
    Once I felt I had a great suffering I turned away from God. I felt no hope of any kind. I didn’t pray and had gotten away from the church. One day my children wanted to spend their pennies and I took them to a thrift shop. That day I found my way back to God and I started going back to church. My little ones were responsible for that blessing they showed me the way. I have been thankful ever since and have promised God I will not turn away ever again.

  6. Rachel Taylor says:

    “Lord have mercy! Christ have mercy!”
    Those words are so raw and emotional, it’s hard to understand how to cope with that. I always find myself either craving affection or trying to help my friends cope with their problems… which can be a challenge. I am just beginning to understand that through prayer, I can help heal them.

  7. Jasmine says:

    Praying the Lord will help me become a better friend and comforter to those who mourn. I admit I am inexperienced when it comes to deep sorrow, but I pray that the Lord will give me the grace needed in situations where loved may need to sense Jesus even when they feel He is far away. Thank you Lord for this post

  8. Elise says:

    I agree with Yaya that you should bring Emily to a doctor. We are wonderfully made and complex and there is such great help available to us. Not all doctors are very good at knowing mental health. But they can give her medication right away and then you can find someone who specializes in mental health to go from there. Before you go maybe have her write a list of her symptoms/what she is feeling (hard to think in the moment once at the office) then the doctor can better prescribe medication. zoloft is usually what treats both anxiety and depression. But know that while her body adjusts to the drug she might experience more anxiety. So it it best they also give her a fast acting pill if she needs it while her body adjusts to the medication and for sleep. I will be praying that you are able to find health professionals who know mental health well and can best target exactly what will help Emily. She is not alone in needing help. And with the right medication and help she will not always feel this way. Sometimes our brains have chemical imbalances and medication can help to heal that. Also, have her eat protein 6 times a day (such as turkey, chicken, or another meat) and eat 1/2 cup legumes 2-3 times a day (like black beans) and calcium (she can even take a couple tums for calcium)

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