I recently l read a pointed quip (one could call it an insult) at a man who had chosen to remain celibate rather than have a relationship with another man. The person wrote, “…This guy needs [religion] as an emotional crutch. Pity.”
Eliphaz is not accusing Job of this. Yet, at the same time “religion” is being used as a bludgeon. “Your religion,” is indicative of Eliphaz. Is Eliphaz not an Israelite? Or is it the dismissal of Job’s consistent acts?
Eliphaz is what many Christians experience from other Christians during hard times, harshness. There is a form of condemnation delivered to Christians going through hard times. Often Christians are the worst about it. We can try to encourage others when they are going through rough times, but then be judged as lacking when we meet our own struggles.
Eliphaz is the metaphorical voice of experience of far too many people. Sometimes, even more sadly, it may be the “voice” in our heads (and hearts) that attacks us and leaves us breathless.
The tragedies that Job’s life had suddenly gone through would be traumatic for anyone. No matter what we think of the last year or four…no, they aren’t Job’s life. Yes, many of us have experienced great loss, pain, fear, and anger. Job got it all.
It might seem strange to bring this in when Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is about disobedience and doing what feels good. Oddly, standing strong in God’s grace, mercy, and salvation is often harder when all we want to do is sit and stew in misery.
Perhaps, just perhaps, Eliphaz was a shot of cold water that each of us needs to jar us out of our whirlpool of misery. However, most of the time such a person just pushes us deeper into the darkness.
We are called to pull people out of the maelstroms of life, not shove them further, no matter who they are.
Are you a person to pull or to push? Does it depend on the person? Does it depend on the reason?
Lord, make in us a resolution to follow through relationship to pull people out and not shove them in. Amen.