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Trials Reveal Our View of God

As we learn about suffering in the book of Job, we understand that God condemns all three of Job’s friend’s viewpoint on God and suffering.

“…the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right…’” Job 42:7

Trials reveal faulty views of suffering. No one intentionally embraces a faulty view of suffering, but what makes each of these views enticing is that there are elements of truth in each one. Specifically, in Job 4-14 we learn of three faulty views by Job’s friends:

  1. Eliphaz represents the Xian “Karma” theory. (Job 4:8, 12-17)
    What you’ve done in the past will come back to haunt you in the future.  This is an attractive way to understand suffering because it’s explainable and in some ways it represents Christian theology.
  2. Bildad represents the “you’re sorry” and you’ll get back what you lost. (Job 8:1-7)
    God is punishing you for what you’ve done. Quit arguing with your punishment. Bildad even goes so far as to say your children probably did something really bad. Cry out for mercy and if you are pure, God will restore everything that has been taken away.
  3. Zophar represents what I call “the cup half-full view of God” OR “you-really-deserve-worse-than-what-you-got-Job.” (Job 11:1-6)
    If God unleashed his full judgment than Job would have received more than what he had already received. We could call Zophar, the self-righteous friend. Who needs enemies when you have friends like Job? There are elements of truth in each of these which is we tend to embrace these theories.

Later this week, I’ll share Job’s faulty views of suffering. A Bible study you might enjoy is to read Job 4-14 and see if you can find other views of suffering represented by Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.

What is a biblical, Christian view of suffering?

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