What do you know that we do not know? What do you understand that is not clear to us? Job 15: 9 NRSV
Are you the first of the human race? Have you had your own meetings with God? Are you the only one who has wisdom? Why do you think you know more than us? We have been trying to tell you that you have sinned and that is why you are suffering. It is punishment for your sins. How dare you suggest differently! You are saying that the wicked do not suffer for their deeds. We know that this is not true. God punishes those who do evil. Therefore we know you have done something bad.
Or so says Eliphaz, Job's friend.
Job has essentially attacked Eliphaz's belief system. Eliphaz is certain that suffering is a punishment for doing evil. God punishes the wicked. The good are rewarded and live lives of abundance and good health. God does not arbitrarily cause people to lose property or family members. If you remain faithful, God will reward you. Period.
Job is countering this understanding. Job is suggesting that there is no reason for suffering. Job has come to believe that faithfulness does not guarantee a care-free life.
Job is essentially attacking Eliphaz's religion.
How do you handle yourself when you find that what you believe is not what others believe? Can you be friends with someone who has a different religion (or even a different denomination!)? Or understanding of God? Perhaps you can be good friends until something major happens - a death in the family or cancer or loss of a job. How then can you support one another? What will you be praying for? Our understandings of God can often cause us to break off relationships with others.
God, none of us really has a complete understanding of you. Help us to be able to listen to one another without judgment or hatred. May our faith be strong without being brittle. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Copyright 2010 Amelia G. Sims