We noted last time that Job was not yet ready for Eliphaz’s platitudes, and we see this immediately today in his opening comments (vv.2-3, particularly). He’s not yet ready to hear even the good he’s being told (and we had to work hard to disentangle the good from the bad in chapters 4-5)! He also seems to share some of Eliphaz’s beliefs about what’s happened to him (v.4), assuming God to be the author of his misfortune. He does, however, recognise – and openly criticise – his friends’ failings (vv.14-15, 21).
After this, and after outlining a rather bleak synopsis of his current condition (chapter 7.1-10), Job turns his attention to God (7.11-21). He rewards God’s trust (chapter 1.11-12) by not cursing him, but he’s not afraid to be outspoken about how he sees his complaint (e.g., v.11) and his view of God’s responsibility for it (e.g., v.20). God seems happy to allow this to happen (it’s an oft-repeated feature of the Psalms, too), not least because there are still many chapters before God himself responds. Perhaps we can be confident that God is more than capable of hearing our complaints. There may come a time when he responds (and indeed, there comes such a time for Job), but in the meantime, there’s a certain honesty and integrity about a relationship that seems able to take such a verbal battering and remain intact.
God doesn’t seem to do sulking, or grudge-harbouring (in fact, we know this from 1 Corinthians 13) and perhaps we underestimate him if we feel we can’t be completely honest with him from time to time. And as this is, in part, about how Job’s friends respond in his time of need, perhaps we need to remember this when faced with those lashing out verbally when trying to deal with extreme circumstances. Sometimes the stage of questioning cannot be rushed. We sometimes need permission to dwell in the hardship (the place where God dwells too – remember the Israelites in the wilderness?) without feeling pressurised to move on. As we’ll discover with Job, timing is everything.
Father God, thank you that you love me enough to hear my complaint. Please help me to, like Job, be able to be honest with you, and, eventually, to hear your response. Amen.