Friday, November 2, 2018
Job 16:5 But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.
Do you have a “Why” brain, a “How” brain, or a “Who” brain? I am naturally a “How” brain. Since I was a small boy I wanted to know how things worked. I loved taking things apart and putting them back together, trying to use all the pieces with no leftovers. When God called me into the ministry I was planning on being a doctor. Knowing how things worked and using all the pieces would have been very important. I still ask lots of questions whenever I’m at the hospital. My mind has a deep desire to know how things work.
Some of you are “Why” brains. Do not confuse yourselves with people who are “Why use the brain” people. You are people who need to know why things happen the way they do. You may not care so much about how something works, but you certainly want to know why it should work. You are the people that need to have a purpose for everything. While I may be satisfied to know that something could work, you want to know why we should even try to make it work. And when something bad happens, your brain goes into overtime trying to figure out why it happened.
When God tested the faith of Job by allowing Satan to destroy everything of value in his life, Job went through a time of serious contemplation of his life. Even though he made it clear that He trusted the character of God, he still had some serious questions about the activity of God. At a time when he needed encouragement, his four closest friends showed up to show him sympathy and bring him comfort. Their grief was so overwhelming that they sat in silence with Job for seven days before anyone spoke a word to him. Then, following words of despair from Job, the three friends speak. The first friend to speak is Eliphaz, and he has a “Why” brain. He is convinced that Job’s suffering is the result of his sin, because the innocent never perishes. He thinks the best way to comfort Job is to help him figure out why all these things have happened.
Bildad speaks next, and he has a “How” brain. The first word out of his mouth is “how”. He wants Job to know how to fix the problem. His diagnosis results in the prognosis of repentance. If Job would repent of his sin, his life would start working out right again.
The third friend to speak is Zophar, and he has a “Who” brain that has been warped by pride. He wants Job to focus on God’s nature and character, but he does it in a condescending and judgmental way. He tells Job that if he really understood the deeper things of God he would realize that his sin deserves more judgment than what he has actually received. Eliphaz, the “Why” brained one, jumps in at this point and agrees, telling Job another reason why this has all happened: “You don’t fear God enough.”
It is at this point that Job stops his friends from talking and tells them that they are miserable comforters. Job is frustrated that in his time of deep need his friends can do nothing but accuse him of wrong. If they were in a similar situation Job would be able to do the same thing, but he says he would never do that. Job understands that when we are hurting and hopeless we don’t need reasons and fixes, we need healing and hope. Job says he would make sure his words were encouraging and comforting so they would bring relief. Job admits to his friends that his hope is gone, and that his heart needs healing.
It is obvious that his friends didn’t hear what he said, because Bildad responds to Job by saying, “Look, here’s how it works. God punishes the wicked, so you must be wicked.” Both friends agree, and Job is left to defend himself as a righteous man who understands God, and he succumbs to pride and reviews all of the ways he is a good man. It is time for the youngest friend Elihu to speak.
Elihu rebukes the other three friends for being “How” and “Why” brained. He warns them not to presume they have God figured out. Then he rebukes Job for pridefully defending himself and not being humble before God. He then asserts God’s justice, extols God’s greatness, and proclaims God’s majesty. Elihu has a true “Who” brain. But before we praise him too highly, God speaks and puts even Elihu in his place by saying that no man can truly understand the mind of God. When God is done speaking, Job repents of his pride and his heart is healed and his hope is restored.
What is the point of all of this? If you want to be a true encourager of others, learn to comfort them with words that direct their attention to God. Forget the how and the why, and focus on the WHO! The knowledge of God is our greatest comfort. Don’t try to figure out causes and solutions to their trials. Instead assure them that God is with them no matter what their circumstance, and He never fails.
Here’s what Job admits when all is said and done: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (emphasis mine)
One purpose of God in our trials is so that we may see Him. When your friends need you, the best healing you can bring is the hope that comes from seeing God for Who He is. Help them see Him. Become a person with a “who” brain – and let the “who” be God!