"Whence Cometh Wisdom?"
Zophar, Eliphaz, and Bildad, the three friends of Job, were aged and experienced, but did not possess the wisdom as to why Job suffered, nor did they understand why Job would not renounce his innocence (Job 25-31). This wisdom still eludes so many today.
Questions such as “Whence cometh suffering?” or “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” continue to be asked. However, a young lad had the wisdom to answer Job and his three friends. Let us learn from the words of young Elihu, noticing an eternal truth that he stated in his reply from Job 32.6-12: “So Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said, ‘I am young in years, and you are very old; therefore I was afraid, and dared not declare my opinion to you. I said, “Age should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.” But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding. Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice. Therefore I say, “Listen to me, I also will declare my opinion.” Indeed I waited for your words, I listened to your reasonings, while you searched out what to say, I paid close attention to you; and surely not one of you convinced Job, or answered his words.’” Notice especially what Elihu said in v. 8: “There is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.”
Physical longevity does not make one wise in regard to salvation (2 Timothy 3.15). Such wisdom only comes from the breath of the Almighty. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2.9-14: “…but as it is written, things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man, whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him. But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God. But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words. Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged.”
Elihu was wiser than those older in physical age because he had spiritual discernment. The scriptures will make one wise (knowledgeable) about why suffering exists, for they explain that suffering is a result of our sins against God. Jesus was purposed to die for our sins, and teach us how to live a life apart from sin. So, in his teaching, he explained how to be transformed from living self-ISH-ly to living self-LESS-ly.
Elihu understood this, and therefore understood why Job suffered. Suffering is the means by which a merciful God, rather than punish us as we deserve, sends us a “light affliction” (2 Corinthians 4.17). This is out of his desire to bring us to repentance (Romans 2.4). By giving us a choice to take his yoke, we will inherit the eternal rewards like Moses did in suffering “affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11.25).
Exercising our faith in obedience is how we witness to others. Obedience is the true evidence of saving faith. Obedience is the work whereby faith is said to justify. Abraham is set forth as an example in James 2.20-24. The spiritual benefits of enduring suffering is seen from James 1.2-3. Suffering, when endured, declares our dependence upon God to deliver. The wisdom God gives about suffering’s purpose enables us to endure because a greater reward than sin’s pleasures is promised (Hebrews 11.26). Suffering is God's way of strengthening our faith in him to the point of obedience. In our obedience, we express our trust in God to fulfill his promises. While we may not see the connection between the promise and the command, a trusting faith does not question God’s love for us, nor God’s ways. All this wisdom from God is in his word, the Bible.
Do you understand why suffering is a part of human life? The scriptures provide the answers. Allow this wisdom to rule in your life and you will live the life described in James 3.17: “…pure, peaceable, gentle; easy to be intreated; full of mercy and good fruits; without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”