“Don’t be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering,
as though it was something strange to you.”
—I Peter 4:12
The School of Suffering
What Elihu has described above is someone suffering so much that he is brought to the very gates of death. There are times when, in spite of fervent prayers, they pass through those gates. Yet, there are many who see those gates and are sent back to fulfill their ministry on earth—in the very light and glory of the One who conquered death. An acquaintance of mine freely shares the story of lying on the ground after being electrocuted. As a lineman, he would climb telephone poles and connect electrical cables. When he was electrocuted, he fell several feet to the ground dead. Then after hearing the voice of the Lord telling him his time was not through, he began breathing again and experienced the extreme pain of the electrocution and fall.
The person going through such a time of suffering needs to understand what is going on. He is in the midst of a tremendous trial and he just doesn’t understand what the Lord is trying to say to him! He has known the voice and instruction of the Spirit before, but now it seems like everything is in turmoil and the Lord has left him. He needs an interpreter, Someone who holds the “thoughts, feelings and purposes of God.” He needs someone who is taught by God to come and explain to him the lessons of the crucible.
An interpreter is an ambassador from the Lord. This interpreter is someone who knows how to hear from the Lord. They are chosen by Him to explain His message, and speak with authority in His Name and with His anointing.
Now, these interpreters are “one in a thousand” because very few of us are willing to undergo the training for the job. Now I am not talking about 2 or 4 years in Bible School, which can be very beneficial. I am talking about the School of Reality, of living. It is living in the school of suffering with the furnace turned up “seven times hotter.” The purpose of this is to produce a heart and mind that has a sensitive intuition of the very heart and mind of God, a delicate touch with the Holy Spirit.
When I am in the midst of a battle, I don’t want theory, I want the wisdom that my counselor has drawn out by applying God’s Word in his own life. If he can’t do that, why should I listen to him? You have probably heard the saying, “Show me the money!” Well, “Show me the evidence!” I want to know that my adviser is speaking from experience.
Sure, Job’s friends could “search out words” from their store of knowledge and reason with him, as they presumed, on God’s behalf, but they could never understand Job’s experiences from the past or his current situation. They certainly couldn’t interpret the purposes of God in placing him in this time of suffering.
Only a true ambassador can show Job “what is right for him to do.” Elihu has plainly shown Job what the right thing for him to do was: He must stop the attempts at clearing himself! He must repent of his misjudging of God that he was treating him like an enemy! He must cease from the writhing and fighting under His hand!
There is no hope of God responding or giving light to our paths until the struggling ends and we rest all of our confidence on God’s faithfulness.
In an earlier chapter of this study I shared how I had a dream during a difficult period for myself that took many years to understand. In my dream, a giant eagle was pursuing me (I know it sounds odd, but dreams are supposed to). As this huge eagle flew toward me, I was terrified and began to panic and run. But it was too late. It was too swift and strong and forcibly pinned me to the ground by his gigantic claws. I exhausted myself as I kicked, squirmed, fought and screamed. Although the eagle was gigantic and could have crushed the life out of me, it did not. It just stared at me, patiently waiting for me to give up, stop fighting and surrender.
After I had expended all my strength and just gave myself over to the mercy of the giant bird of prey, it seemed to smile at me (in dreams eagles can smile) and loosened its hold on me. It did not release me, it simply relaxed its grasp.
What I now see, is that sometimes the Lord will “hold us down,” so to speak, until we quit thrashing around. Sometimes we need to be “held down” so that He can speak openly to us and reveal His intentions. When we shut up and listen, He will finally reveal His intentions. That is the hard part. Closing our mouths and sitting quietly so He can get a word in edge-wise.
There are many times when I have had to just fall down on my face before the Lord and cry out to Him. I need my heart cleansed and my motives clarified before I can understand what He is trying to work in my life. I remember when I was teaching all the time, it was very easy to trust in my own natural gifts and abilities. I realized though, that if I ever did trust in my own strength there would be no power, no anointing. If there is no anointing, there is no life; if there is no life, there is no change in me or in those that were listening.
It doesn’t matter how much you know or how much talent or human wisdom you have, you have to get down on your face and depend on God—and God alone! You cannot depend on the arm of the flesh.
All of these things will temper and tame our pride and make us more sensitive to the Lord’s heart and transform us to His image. That is the true work of grace in our lives.
So without rambling on and on, Elihu simply interprets to Job his position and gives a message of life and restoration.
God was without doubt leading Job into a deeper understanding of His nature, wisdom and character. He took away the very work he loved, so that He could save him from spiritual pride, that nothing in his life might end in corruption, or perish under the judgment of God.
Job had been removed from his place of honor and respect in order to learn about himself and how dependent on God he really is for every breath of life. Every breath you take is an act of grace, a gift from your Father. At every point of extremity, we should take the right attitude before the Lord. We need to cease from our own sufficiency and, just as Job had to learn, not to consider our own integrity and simply turn and cling to our Redeemer.
If you are interested, you can download the whole study of Job.
Other Bible Studies and Commentary are available at Doulos Studies.