Read Job 36:8-23.
Job had consistently proclaimed to his friends that he had not sinned. Each of his friends argued that there was some problem in Job’s life that he needed to seek forgiveness from God. At this point, Elihu spoke up. He had waited until this point in the account because he was the youngest of the four men who had attempted to speak into Job’s life. Elihu proclaimed that his words had originated with God (Job 36:2b). It is clear that Elihu’s theology was the closest to being right. He argued that God has a specific purpose for allowing someone to suffer. But, if Job did not repent because of his pride and did not learn the lesson from his suffering, he would end his days with no comfort.
Elihu did say that God is the source of all hope and wisdom. We can agree with Elihu that God is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. When dealing with suffering, either our own or the suffering of someone close to us, we are not engaged in a theological lesson or debate, although right theology is essential. Paul reminds us that before we make assumptions about the reason for suffering, we should “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). The best thing that Job’s friends did was to sit with Job in silence for seven days. Perhaps that is the lesson we can learn from Job, not to make hasty conclusions or generalizations based on the circumstances of someone’s life. The best thing is to listen first and ask theological questions later.