“What is God trying to teach you in all of this?” That question rang in my head as I listened to a friend talk me through one of the darkest seasons of my life. To be slandered and lied about was deeply difficult, and deeply wrong. My friend’s question bothered me because I didn’t want to learn anything in that moment; I simply wanted vindication.
In my suffering, I was taking the attitude of Job. His posture showed that he believed God should answer for the apparent injustice that had befallen him. God should take the stand as the defendant and give an answer for why He had treated “righteous” Job so poorly.
But Elihu suggests another posture. When faced with suffering and hardship, our hearts should not rise up and require an answer from God for the apparent injustice we’re facing. Rather, we should look to God, assuming that our current suffering is due to His justice. In this way, we may be corrected, turn, and do what is right.
Elihu points Job to the mystery of God’s perfect power and justice in all that He does, calling him to humility rather than arrogant demands for an answer. Elihu’s logic for this kind of perspective comes from the powerful work of God in creation. God powerfully and righteously sends down rain to benefit the land, but also to blessed those whom He loves and punish the wicked (Job 37:13). The trouble is, we’re not wise enough, nor do we possess enough knowledge to be able to discern fully which is which. “Do you know how God directs his clouds or makes their lightning flash?” (v.15). Our entitlement of heart leads us to believe that when God thunders, He’d better give an answer to us as to why He thundered.
Elihu shares two things with us: First, God is perfect in His justice and power. And second, we aren’t all-knowing. We will never understand God’s ways perfectly; therefore, we must be humble before Him (v.23–24). We must remember that our God does great things that we cannot possibly comprehend (v.5).
At first, His work might not make much sense to us, which is exactly why we must humbly embrace the foolishness of the cross. Jesus’s death was the greatest injustice in the history of humanity, and yet it was the place where God’s justice and mercy met. When we are tempted to puff out our chests and demand an answer from God, we would do well to remember He has already given humanity an answer. He spoke loudly and clearly of His love, justice, power, and mercy at Calvary.
Written by Jeremy Writebol