In our reading from Job chapter 8 today, when Bildad the Shuhite speaks up, he offers us a great example of a phenomenon I suppose we could call “right but useless.” What he’s saying to Job is true, to a certain extent. But what is Job supposed to do with the information? Bildad tells Job that suffering is a result of sin, that God does not pervert justice, and that if a sinner repents, God will restore him. Job’s children, Bildad argues, must have been sinful. Job himself must be sinful. That’s why these things happened to him.
Ok, well, sure, in a general sense this is all true. Job is a sinner, like all men, as were his children. And the wages of sin is death. Sinners die. And sinners suffer in this sinful world of suffering. But it doesn’t follow that because of some specific sins they committed, Job’s children went to the grave, nor does it follow that Job has lost everything as a direct punishment for some particular undiagnosed sin. So in a general sense, sure, Bildad is right. But in a specific sense, his supposed wisdom doesn’t really apply. And it has no value. It’s useless. Job’s children are gone. Will generic repentance draw them up from the grave? When a man is drowning in the ocean, you may be right that he should have taken swim lessons. But what use is that information to him now?
But, strangely, there is comfort to be found in Bildad’s words, although Bildad himself doesn’t seem to realize it. “Behold, God will not reject a blameless man, nor take the hand of evildoers,” he tells Job. “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting. Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.”
And that’s where the truth is. There is but one blameless man, the God/Man Jesus Christ, the One who gave His life for Job upon the cross, the one who gave His life for Job’s children, for Bildad, for you and me. At Calvary, your sinless Savior took all your sins upon Himself, and because He was blameless, without sin Himself, then His Father did not reject Him. His Father lifted Him up from the grave. And there, on that glorious day of the resurrection, Jesus Christ gave you the right to fill your mouth with laughter. There, He clothed you in glory, just as He clothed the enemies of sin, death, and the devil in shame.
So the day will come when God will indeed give you back all those He placed into the grave, those who fell asleep in Christ. The day will come when all the sores of suffering will be gone forever and you are welcomed into the eternal kingdom of bliss. Jesus Christ–that’s the answer to the suffering of Job. Always right, always true, always useful.