Then Job replied:
“I have heard many things like these;
you are miserable comforters, all of you!
Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing?
I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.
But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.
The narrative of Job is contained to the first and last few chapters. Job is an upright man who has many blessings. In order to test Job’s righteousness, Satan removes the blessings and Job suffers. In the end, Job is given twice the number of blessings. If only the events of the story were included, the whole book would barely cover a page of the Bible. So why are there 42 chapters? The majority of the book consists of conversations on the nature of suffering, justice, and wisdom between Job and his three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Each friend offers different explanations as to how and why a just God would punish an upright man like Job, using arguments that many of us have or said when faced with inexplicable suffering.
At this point of the story, Job is fed up with listening to his friends’ accusations, hollow words of comfort, or mere philosophizing. He rebukes them, pointing out that their words are meaningless and they are more concerned with arguing their own views of theodicy instead of actually bringing him any relief. Job’s frustration is very relatable to anyone who has ever experienced grief. The words of well-meaning friends can become excruciating when they try to explain suffering. “God works in mysterious ways.” “This is a test of your faith.” “God just wanted her in heaven early, that’s all.” Even the greatest, most scholarly pastor cannot explain grief in a satisfying way. Describing pain, like describing love, cannot prepare you for the real thing. It is felt by all and no amount of knowledge can save you from it. Yet we still try. We construct logical arguments like Job’s friends that look bulletproof, but immediately crumble at the slightest tap. We desperately hope that our night light of reason will keep away the monsters, but we still lay awake, with our hearts pounding.
The arguments of Job’s friends are profoundly unsatisfying. What he longs for is the comfort of wisdom. Wisdom will help him understand what has happened to him, why it happened, and bring a measure of comfort. Wisdom cannot come from man’s logic. Only God has wisdom.
When we understand that logic brings no relief to suffering, we escape the fourth trap.