In chapter 35, Elihu again condemns Job’s proclamations of righteousness as forced. Elihu warns him against saying that God does not hear his cry, for God truly does hear the righteous, but ignores the evil. He contends that Job’s understanding of his plight is in error. God’s lack of response, His slowness to kill Job, is not vindication, but simple God’s display of sovereignty over when life begins or ends. He goes on in the first of chapter 36 to further reiterate his defense of God’s ways, drawing a straight line between the righteous and the wicked, and saying that God always rewards to former and punishes the latter. He expresses it vividly in the following passage:
11 If they obey and serve Him,
They shall spend their days in prosperity,
And their years in pleasures.
12 But if they do not obey,
They shall perish by the sword,
And they shall die without knowledge.
He then goes on to specifically tell Job that if he was not evil, he would not be suffering this woe, and that he should stop questioning God before God destroys him completely. God is always right.
God is always right, but man is not always guilty. Obviously, we are in no position to accused God, but we can ask Him questions. God is not unjust, but He is unsearchable. We cannot always know His plan, and the purpose of discomfort, but we can always trust Him. This is where Elihu and the other friends of Job fell short in their understanding of the theology of suffering. Suffering will happen. We live in a fallen world. But God, always righteous, sometimes has a purpose for that suffering, and will bring us through it. Although we do have the power to live right as redeemed individuals, and although we do have the power to pray and believe and receive from God, there are larger parts of this great tapestry being woven that we may not be able to see immediately. Trust and believe, and keep walking, even when other do not understand your faith.