When a friend is going through a trial, whether that trial is of their own making or one seemingly thrust upon by an unknown source, the love of Christ ought to be shown him. In Job 5 we continue to see how Job’s friend, Eliphaz, is attempting to convince Job his trials come from his doing wrong and thus God is punishing him. Eliphaz began his monologue in chapter 4 and continues in chapter 5 with this accusatory language describing Job as some fool who cannot see God’s motives in sending these trials were to chasten Job.
Job responds to Eliphaz in chapter 6 with a “way to kick a man while he’s down” attitude. Job is grieving and Eliphaz does not take that into account when ministering to Job. “ But Job answered and said, Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.” (6:1-4) Job continues on in verses 8-10 of the same chapter longing for God to grant the escape of death. These are not words of a dramatic person, but rather of a man who feels like he cannot take anymore.
What would have been the right response for Eliphaz? As explained last week, I don’t believe Eliphaz’s motives were incorrect, but rather his methods were incorrect. In chapter 5 we saw Eliphaz glorifies God in verses 8-16, but in doing so he ascribes motives to God’s actions without taking into account, God’s love and kindness. Job criticizes Eliphaz and defends himself in Job 6:14 by stating, “ To him that is afflicted pity should be shewed from his friend; but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.” Pity or kindness should be shown to the afflicted.
Counseling a fellow believer can be difficult and I would submit it is something that is often done poorly. On one extreme you have the “smothering” counselor who takes the time to point out all the faults and the wrong decisions of the afflicted while on the other hand you have the counselor who listens to the woes then leaves with an insincere, “I’ll be praying for you.” I am challenged by these passages to be a sincere, kind-hearted friend. I may not be able to meet all the needs of those who share their burdens with me, but I pray God will give me wisdom and the means to lighten the load of a fellow believer for His glory. I challenge you to take time to listen to the afflicted and ask God to help you give wise counsel.