It might be the best advice given yet. After thirty-five chapters of listening to their unproductive debate, the young upstart, having held his tongue as long as he could, may have been the most in tune with Job’s greatest need. And perhaps his valuable insight is something that I might do well to heed myself.
Job has grown increasingly agitated over the course of receiving his “comforter’s” pathetic attempts at comfort. Job has no clue as to the why of what has befallen him. How could he? Who would have imagined the debate in heaven between his God and his adversary which started it all? His suffering not tied to some great mysterious cause-and-effect of his own making. Instead, what has befallen him has been according to Divine permission for God’s sovereign purposes–purposes, for the most part, known only in the heavenly realm.
And so, what started with, “I wish I had never been born” has escalated to “I want to hash this out with the Almighty . . . face to face . . . man to God!”
All the while, his comforters bristle at his apparent self-righteousness and thus seek to “sooth” his torment with, “Admit it Job. God punishes sin. Obviously you are being punished. Therefore, based on how great this punishment, time to confess how great your sin.”
And back and forth they go. Job repeatedly defending his righteousness and demanding an audience before heaven. His friends. again and again, shutting him down condemning his out-of-touch-with-reality arrogance.
Enter Elihu. Enter into the debate perhaps the best advice yet. Stop!
“Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God.”
(Job 37:14 ESV)
Stop! Stand still, say other translations. Take a breath. Cease and desist. Be still.
Job was so wrapped around the axle with demanding a reason for the “why” of his suffering that he was losing perspective (and a measure of reverence) concerning Who presided over his situation. Time, says Elihu, to stop. To stop and consider.
“Behold, God is exalted in His power; who is a teacher like Him? . . . Behold, God is great, and we know Him not; the number of His years is unsearchable. . . . God thunders wondrously with His voice; He does great things that we cannot comprehend. . . . stop and consider the wondrous works of God.”
(Job 36:22, 26; 37:5, 14 ESV)
Sometimes we just need to put it in park and look around. And then look up . . . look way up. Take time to think. Take time to meditate. Take time to be still . . . and know that He is God (Ps. 46:10).
The “wondrous works” Elihu gives as examples aren’t the extraordinary things. He doesn’t appeal to the miraculous or that which is apart from the common course of nature. Nothing like parted seas, water from rocks, or food from heaven (yet to happen, by the way). Instead, the wondrous works Elihu points to for Job’s consideration are the snow God tells to fall on the earth and the downpour God commands at His will. Everyday indicators of Majesty on High such as scattering winds, moisture bloated clouds sending forth lightning, and bodies of water frozen fast by cold temperatures. The often overlooked things like beasts who know enough to shelter in their lairs when the weather turns bad.
Stand still. Ponder the everyday operation of the natural world around you. Behold the wondrous works of God.
And then, as the awe-o-meter rises through the contemplation of the mundane and ordinary, know that the God who ordains and maintains the taken-for-granted mechanics of the world around you, is the same God who is well aware of your circumstance . . . of your suffering . . . of your searching for understanding. And that, though He has not produced an explanation for the affairs of the day, He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:8, Heb. 13:5). And He has invited us to boldly draw near to His throne of grace, “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). And He has assured us that His grace is sufficient, “for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2Cor. 12:9).
We can know this. We can rest in this. We can be revived in this. We just need to stop. To stop and consider.
To stop and know again that He is God. Mighty in deed. Every day declaring His wondrous works and unfathomable power.
To stand still and to be reminded that God is love. Having so loved us, He gave His Son to redeem us . . . His Spirit to seal us . . . His word to guide us . . . His promises to encourage us.
Stop. Pretty good advice I think.
That we might know afresh His grace. That we might determine anew to live for His glory.