"Bear with me a little, and I will show you, for I have yet something to say on God's behalf… Surely God is mighty and does not despise any…" - Job 36
When everything in Job's life went to hell, three of his friends tried to help make sense of it. One by one they explained why such awful things had happened to him. And, one by one, they made it worse.
That's when a man named Elihu stepped in. He was not an elder, like Job's other friends, but he had been listening to the men who were and he didn't like what he heard. They had all insisted that Job must somehow deserve his suffering. But Elihu didn't see it that way. Instead, he told them, God is merciful but even the righteous get the short end of the stick sometimes.
Have you ever known someone like Job's friends? Someone who comes in during the midst of tragedy and tries to find an easy explanation for what happened? Someone who refuses to believe that sometimes bad things really do just happen to good people?
It's in those moments that the world needs more Elihus. We need people who will sit with those who hurt and say, "Yeah, this is crummy, no two ways around that. But it's not your fault, and I love you, and I still believe God loves us all."
The church should be full of Elihus, but too often we are not. The good news is that you and I can change that, one Job at a time.
God, help me not to be one of Job's comforters, and help me to sit in the pain of suffering without succumbing to the easiness of finding blame. Amen.
Emily C. Heath is Senior Pastor of The Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire.