Read Job 18
18 Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:
2 “When will you end these speeches?
Be sensible, and then we can talk.
3 Why are we regarded as cattle
and considered stupid in your sight?
4 You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger,
is the earth to be abandoned for your sake?
Or must the rocks be moved from their place?
5 “The lamp of a wicked man is snuffed out;
the flame of his fire stops burning.
6 The light in his tent becomes dark;
the lamp beside him goes out.
7 The vigor of his step is weakened;
his own schemes throw him down.
8 His feet thrust him into a net;
he wanders into its mesh.
9 A trap seizes him by the heel;
a snare holds him fast.
10 A noose is hidden for him on the ground;
a trap lies in his path.
11 Terrors startle him on every side
and dog his every step.
12 Calamity is hungry for him;
disaster is ready for him when he falls.
13 It eats away parts of his skin;
death’s firstborn devours his limbs.
14 He is torn from the security of his tent
and marched off to the king of terrors.
15 Fire resides in his tent;
burning sulfur is scattered over his dwelling.
16 His roots dry up below
and his branches wither above.
17 The memory of him perishes from the earth;
he has no name in the land.
18 He is driven from light into the realm of darkness
and is banished from the world.
19 He has no offspring or descendants among his people,
no survivor where once he lived.
20 People of the west are appalled at his fate;
those of the east are seized with horror.
21 Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man;
such is the place of one who does not know God.”
Here we see Bildad the Shuhite for the second time in the book of Job. Job is pouring out his heart in mourning, anger, and frustration in the previous chapter. Like many of us would in this situation, Bildad goes to Job to console him, but his consolation quickly devolves into the offering of uninformed advice. As one well studied in the Jewish law, and unaware of Job’s unique circumstances, Bildad easily misinterprets Job’s outburst as a blasphemous criticism of the goodness of God. Bildad cannot wrap his head around the possibility of a righteous man’s suffering, because there was no precedent for it laid out before him. His misperceptions lead to false accusations, and his false accusations lead to further hurt and suffering in the life of Job.
This passage in Job continues to tackle one of the most difficult questions in Christian apologetics: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Many would like to think that Christianity in the twenty-first century is far removed from the dogmatic theologies present in Job, but there are still many today that cling to the idea that suffering is reciprocal to sinful behavior, or perhaps even demonstrative of a lack of faith altogether. However, the more we engage those who are suffering, it is often they who exemplify faith on a scale far more apostolic in nature than the average cultural Christian. Often God allows for the tearing of the muscle so that in its healing process it may grow stronger to do the work of the kingdom, and to demonstrate in action the abundant and living grace of God.
This chapter reminds us that we often know less than we think about other peoples’ lives. It is also a call into authentic fellowship, honest confession, and radical vulnerability even in trial and temptation. We often feel the urge to provide free “advice,” to whoever will listen, and this flows from a place of compassion. However, when we lack an authentic relationship with those to whom we offer our thoughts, the very criticisms we perceive as productive can in reality be foolish or hurtful. We lack perspective. We must allow God to shift our hearts towards a vision that sees the world as he does, not with vengeful retribution, but with an immense compassion poured out at the cross.
James 1:19-20 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” Today, let’s lean in to being people who are quick to listen and slow to speak.
- Is there someone you could encourage this week, or get to know a little better?
- Do you have someone in your life who despite immense tragedy, demonstrates unwavering faith?
- When was the last time you authentically confessed your sins to a brother or sister in Christ?
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