Right now, the Daily Office has placed us right into the heart of the book of Job. Job and his friends have conversed and argued about the righteousness of God and man. Nobody is able to reach a conclusion; the conversation ends with disagreement.
But then another voice is heard, that of Elihu. Apparently a young man, Elihu had remained silent in the previous discussions, as he states, “I am young in years, and you are aged, therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you.” Elihu, this young man who is clearly wise beyond his years and has been given “the breath of the Almighty that makes for understanding” is keen enough to discern the nonsense of Job’s discussions so far. The narrative says that “Eliju was angry at Job because he justified himself rather than God.”
The young man, untrained in years of wisdom and still lacking the symbolic gray hair of sagacity, strikes upon the heart of our theological understanding of suffering. When evil and terrible events occur that destroy human lives, Christians are often caught up in conversations that try to figure out a way to show how God still exists in the midst of such tragedy. But Elihu has it right, and we have it wrong. We cannot justify God’s existence, no matter how hard we try and how many rhetorical or semantic tools we employ.
The truth of the matter is that God’s justifies us. It’s not an easy lesson, and it leaves us feeling uncomfortable with disasters. But it should propel us to our knees in thanksgiving that God has so decided to love us, despite the disasters that we inflict upon one another.