Killing Eliphaz To Become Christ

I’m Eliphaz…or Bildad.

In the ancient story of Job and his soul breaking suffering I hardly identify with the broken protagonist, but the high-minded antagonists.

Poor Job, Stupid Friends

They knew to grieve with their friend Job, bearing his ashes and sackcloth as their own. But their grief counseling took a sharp dive when they opened their mouths to spew their Dr. Phil interpretations of Job’s plight.

To them, heart-rending tragedy wasn’t Job’s main problem, sin was.  In one case they even suggest Job is so incomprehensibly sorrowful not because he lost his whole family, but lost his stuff.

Even with that, much of their pious dialogue with Job was inspired. So much so, Paul positively quotes a gem from Eliphaz in one of his letters (1 Cor 3:19).

Job’s friends were right.

Job’s friends were wrong.

When processing and prognosing other’s issues, I’m usually right and wrong too.

I can theologize and philosophize the hell out of a tough situation. Throw in a pat on the back and a clean Romans 8:28 reference and our brotherly obligation is done. Right? Maybe add in a “I’ll pray for ya” if we’re feeling super spiritual.

We can be right in truth but ruthlessly wrong in application of it.

Orthodox words spoken in uncharitable timing can only twist deeper the irreparable knife stuck in a victim’s heart of hearts.

Two days ago, a local family friend shot and killed his girlfriend and himself in an apparent murder-suicide. I didn’t know him personally, but he was once my wife’s kickbox instructor and father in law’s motorcycle riding buddy.

I don’t know the victim’s family well, but I do know they don’t need Scripture psycho babblings and graspings for crisp explanations. They need a messy incarnation of Jesus to bear their burden, not the trite bumper sticker Jesus of cultural Christianity. They need the human Jesus who shows up at the fresh gravesite of his BFF, Lazarus, and bawls like a slapped newborn baby (John 11:35).

You can’t salve a gaping wound with empty platitudes. Be careful with bruised reeds. “Nuance” isn’t just a fun hipster catchword in those circumstances.

But entering in to another’s heartbreak, with a weeping breaking heart of our own, is real work. I’d rather be a “Dear Anne” advice columnist dispensing my wisdom from afar while never having to personally witness the anguish is another’s face.

But it takes real wisdom not to speak, but to know when to shut up.

Just be there.

In the flesh.

In the moment.



Bryan Daniels


Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

7 thoughts on “Killing Eliphaz To Become Christ”

  1. Another ‘great blog’, as hard as it is to say that with the sad situation. My own father killed himself almost 2 years ago. Suicide is an entirely different level of pain, and to add in a murder, I can’t imagine the sorrow for the families. It only takes a second and lives are rearranged forever. As for me, like most folks, I have known loss, and sickness. My brother was killed in a motorcycle accident, my 15 yr old sister died in a pick-up truck accident, my baby died of crib death, lost my mom to cancer, along with too many friends..and yet, to lose my dad in that way was a horrible sadness that came over me, and lasted way too long. I felt very alone in the grief, because it only takes a second for people to forget what ‘just happened’, even if it was a week or several months. Grief takes time. So many unanswered questions. So much we cannot ever understand. And as for Job, amazingly enough, it’s one of my favorite books in the Bible ONLY because I can relate to so much of it. Thank you for blogging, ..even with sad things, your writing is a blessing.

  2. Tough situations, great grief, require great love. Throw in the deeply tragic circumstances and all the things that people “will say”… compassionate and kind words are going to be crucial. You have a good handle on it. Go and be Christ…..peace be with you.

  3. Amen. This is one of the most overlooked ministries. The ministry of your presence and your ear – minus the mouth. 🙂

  4. Amen! I lost my father recently. I can’t remember anything that anyone said that made any difference at all – but I can tell you who was there. In person at the hospital and at the funeral. Commenting on Facebook. Emailing me. Calling me. Sending flowers and cards. Their love got me through it, not their words.

    I have another memory. I’d just been diagnosed with breast cancer and an acquaintance called me up to talk me through the exercise of discovering which of my sins had brought on the disease.

    Guess which memories enrich my life?

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