Daily D – Job 4:8

by | May 20, 2024 | Daily D | 0 comments

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Job 4:8  “In my experience, those who plow injustice and those who sow trouble reap the same.” (CSB)

“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” 

Job’s friend Eliphaz should have remained silent. He was a good friend providing presence. And then he spoke. He began well, as these words declare:

“Should anyone try to speak with you when you are exhausted? 
Yet who can keep from speaking? 
Indeed, you have instructed many and have strengthened weak hands. 
Your words have steadied the one who was stumbling and braced the knees that were buckling. 
But now that this has happened to you, you have become exhausted. 
It strikes you, and you are dismayed.
 Isn’t your piety your confidence, and the integrity of your life your hope?”

‭‭Job‬ ‭4‬:‭2‬-‭6‬ ‭CSB‬‬

These words are kind and well-placed. He should have stopped there. He didn’t. 

“In my experience, those who plow injustice and those who sow trouble reap the same. 
They perish at a single blast from God and come to an end by the breath of his nostrils. 
The lion may roar and the fierce lion growl, but the teeth of young lions are broken. 
The strong lion dies if it catches no prey, and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭4‬:‭8‬-‭11‬ ‭CSB‬‬

If we were to paraphrase what Eliphaz said, we might say, “You’re the cause of your own problem.” There are two things wrong with this conclusion. First, it’s not true. Second, it’s flat-out mean. 

Eliphaz appealed to the rules of the game. Taking the right lead measures ensures the right outcomes. This is generally true. Things tend work out best for those who live right and well like Job. Let us quickly acknowledge the lack of guarantees that this is how things will work out in all cases. Bad things happen to the best of people, including you and me. 

When bad things happen, we need friends who have cultivated the disciplines of presence and silence. We do not need companions who attempt to solve our problems without our invitation. We do not need friends who are more interested in being heard than in listening to our groans of grief. 

There is a time and place for working out the causes of our unpleasant experiences. This should happen after the bleeding is stopped, the bones are set, and the pain has subsided. Romans 12:15 is helpful when it says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”

Proverbs 25:20 is also insightful: “Singing songs to a troubled heart is like taking off clothing on a cold day or like pouring vinegar on soda.” The Message paraphrase says, “Singing light songs to the heavyhearted is like pouring salt in their wounds.”

Let us keep the salt far away from open wounds. Triage now. Philosophize later.

I will practice the disciplines of presence and silence with wounded people.

Our Father, it is a difficult dance knowing when to step forward and when to step back. Please teach me the steps. Choreograph my moves. Remind me as often as necessary to stop talking and to start listening deeply. Amen. 

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