“Why haven’t I been healed yet?”
I believe Job asked that same question, and for good reason. He’d lost his business, his employees, his children, and his health. Was there ever anyone as miserable as he? He was wounded in every way.
Sometimes when people are in mourning, there’s nothing you can say to make them feel better. So, you do as the scripture says. Like Jesus did at Lazarus’s tomb, you weep with those who weep. That’s what Job’s three friends did. They came to comfort him and offer their condolences. But after hearing what they had to say, Job called them “miserable comforters.”
Why was that? Job was in pain. He hurt so bad inside, he wished he never had been born. He hoped his friends would sympathize. Instead, they threw solutions at him, loaded with false accusation. To summarize and paraphrase:
Eliphaz basically said, “Practice what you preach, bro. You saved others. Save yourself. If you’re good then God will bless you, but if you’re bad He’ll stress you. This tragedy and sickness is God’s discipline in your life, for failing to keep your promises, stealing clothes from the naked, doing nothing to help the hungry or the thirsty, or the naked, and for breaking the arms of the fatherless” (see chapter 22, verses 6-9). “Because of these secret sins I know you did, God has punished you.” Eliphaz seemed to think that God was very hard to please. He falsely accused Job of committing sins he wasn’t guilty of.
Doing Eliphaz one better, Zophar called Job a liar. “You say you’re so great. God’s out to get you. He is swift to take revenge. Feel His wrath! Stop sinning. Do what’s right and you’ll be blessed.”
Bildad basically said the same thing as Eliphaz: “Bad guys will get punished, but if you’re perfect, you’ll be fine.” In other words, “Snap out of it, Bub. You’ll get no sympathy from us.”
Have you ever felt blamed for not getting healed quickly enough, suffering financial loss without immediate compensation, or for failing to hear from God for something you’d been praying about for an excruciatingly long time?
Job’s friends seemed to think he should be able to heal himself. “If you say and do all the right things, God will reward you. Instant compensation!” They were quick to point fingers at Job for his failure to prosper and be in health. Unlike the Apostle John in the second verse of his third epistle, they didn’t seem to want Job to prosper, and were doing all they could to keep his soul from prospering – by condemning him for his sin and encouraging him to rely on a works-based righteousness that never could save (or heal) anyone.
Job didn’t understand why they were persecuting him (according to chapter 19, verse 22) and tried to defend himself against their false accusations. But at the same time, what he really needed and cried out for was an audience with God. He didn’t want solutions. He wanted answers only God could give him. Thankfully, Elihu, the last person to speak to Job, encouraged him to look past his pain and consider the greatness of God. “I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker” (chapter 36, verse 3).
It was after God revealed Himself to Job that he was healed (at least, we’re certainly led to believe he was). First he had to pray for his three friends, who hadn’t spoken what was right about God. After this, God began the process of restoration in his life and gave him twice as much as he had before. He was prospering in every way!
So, what can we learn from Job? Well, sometimes healing seems to take a while, especially when you have friends like he had, but one encounter with God can change all that.
“Therefore, I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any (especially guys who persecute you – i.e, give you a hard time, like Job’s three friends persecuted him): that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25)