07 March 2008

Deliverance through Affliction?

I'm trying to figure out Elihu's role in Job, and the more I consider, the more I think he is a voice of truth speaking into Job's life, not in continuity with but in contrast to, Job's others three "friends." Elihu still, I think, retains some of the problematic assumptions of the other friends--such as in 36:8-9--but in light of 32:1-5 and the fact that he is omitted from God's rebuke at the end of the book, and that much of what he says does seem to provide a healthy corrective to what Job has listened to (and contributed himself) thus far, I do think he is generally a voice of truth, not folly.

Anyhow, I noticed the following verse today (from the mouth of Elihu), which, I think, encapsulates the core of the paradox driving Paul in 2 Corinthians. A lesson contrary to the mindset in ancient Corinth, modern America, and one I feel like an infant in.

He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity. (36:15)

There is a deliverance in this fallen world that comes not by avoiding or overcoming affliction but by going through it.

The ultimate instance: Christ's cross.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply
The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine


Anonymous said...

I never noticed that. Some today might rewrite it to say, "He delivers the afflicted FROM their affliction in such a way that being delivered BY it is unthinkable."

Thank you!

John McGrath said...

My dear Great Dane! What an encouragement to read through your blog! Your Exodus five comments below have stuck with me for days.

I've been thinking of you a lot lately, as Christopher is now 15, and Jack 13, and I think you were probably 14-15 back in the old days when we did our bible study. I pray daily (or at least groan daily) that God would work in my sons' lives like he has yours.

Your heart for the Lord inspires me!

Dane Ortlund said...

Hi Dad and John, thanks for the comments. I miss you too John--didn't know you ever poked your head in here. Hard to believe your boys are my age when we met together for rgfleg. They are sons to be proud of. I look back with fondness on those days.