Once again one of Job’s friends tries to convince Job to turn from his evil ways to spare himself from more suffering at the hands of an angry God. This time Bildad implores him to consider what his own ancestors might have learned that could help him out of his pitiful place. Perhaps they learned that evil grows like weeds that cannot be destroyed – their roots are deep and they grow where they shouldn’t.
If Job had ever considered their words, I wonder if he would have made himself crazy trying to figure out what he had done to deserve such a fate. To this I can relate. There have been a number of sufferings that have occurred in my family that have made me wonder what I could have done differently to avoid such suffering. I have even thought I must have done something bad to deserve it. But thinking like that will make me crazy. I can’t manufacture blame where there is none. I cannot accept responsibility for my kids’ illnesses. I did nothing to anger God so that God would strike them down. (Although I certainly had that fight with God on more than one occasion.) Once I can accept that sometimes sucky things just happen – no one to blame, nothing I could have done to prevent it – I can be about the business of learning how to live within the new reality. I can finally be gentler with myself and kinder to God.
Then Bildad the Shuhite answered: “How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind? Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right? If your children sinned against him, he delivered them into the power of their transgression. If you will seek God and make supplication to the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore to you your rightful place. Though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.
“For inquire now of bygone generations, and consider what their ancestors have found; for we are but of yesterday, and we know nothing, for our days on earth are but a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?
“Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh? Can reeds flourish where there is no water? While yet in flower and not cut down, they wither before any other plant. Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish. Their confidence is gossamer, a spider’s house their trust. If one leans against its house, it will not stand; if one lays hold of it, it will not endure. The wicked thrive before the sun, and their shoots spread over the garden. Their roots twine around the stoneheap; they live among the rocks. If they are destroyed from their place, then it will deny them, saying, ‘I have never seen you.’ See, these are their happy ways, and out of the earth still others will spring.
“See, God will not reject a blameless person, nor take the hand of evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy. Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.”