"Job, so here we are again. I have to confess, Job, that I am not in a great frame of mind today. Your story has oppressed me. Then again, it is tax season here in the US, and I have to fill out my taxes today. I don't like doing that at all. It seems, Job, that every year I complete them and then forget immediately what I did to fill them out so that the next year it is as if I begin all over again. "Name"...Hm..What is my name? You get the picture. I am so glad, however, that you let me come to you with the little and the big things, Job. Most of us lives oppressed lives a lot of time, I think. I know that when I am feeling out of sorts, Job, I take it out on the rest of the world. I don't suffer gracefully in silence. I make it out as if my discomfort is the biggest injustice perpetrated in history since the Holocaust or the Armenian Genocide of the 20th century. That (I share this in confidence, Job) is the fundamental reason I don't think I will ever closely connect with a woman in life. I become unbearably intolerable when I feel the slightest emotional discomfort in my life, and I don't want to inflict that on a woman. Thus, I am being compassionate to women by not developing intimate relationships with them. Well, that really is a topic of another conversation, isn't it Job? Let's get back to you.
Maybe, Job, that is why I am drawn to you. I think you are so self-absorbed in your suffering that you simply can't hear what anyone else has to say. Granted, the story is presented so that no one could imagine things being any worse, and thus your self-absorption is understandable, but when you get right down to it, it is "all about Job." Suffering is all about Job. Your prior life was all about Job. Your righteousness is all about you. The apparently comforting words of Eliphaz are words of treachery. People just don't understand. God is unjustly silent. You are right. You want to inscribe your rightness and your case on the most permanent surfaces known to the ancient world (19:23-24). You would like epigraphers from all generations to marvel at the pain etched deeply in the rock. It all tells about Job. That is the only reality for you. Job. Job. Job. The world now revolves around you and every word that anyone says, if you even listen to them, is summarily discarded.
I have to say, unfortunately, that I understand exactly where you are coming from. It has been a personality deficiency I have had for decades, Job, that I simply cannot get away from focus on myself. Oh, I recognize when someone has done something wonderful, but I can also sharpen my critic's pen againt almost everyone for almost anything. And, I think I am right in so doing. I slice through peoples' ideas like a sharp knife cuts through a watermelon.
But tell me if I am right, Job. The purpose of retreating into this self-justificatory behavior, this superior than the world approach to life, is to create a perch of unassailability, a place from which one can survey the inadequacy of the entire world, that world which now does not appreciate you. And, you can skewer this world, and God, to your heart's content. And, you are right. You know you are as unerringly right as are the original manuscrips of the Bible in the minds of the fundamentalists. You are right. The world can taste it for all you care. You have the language, the words, the feeling, the intensity, the resolute knowledge that you have been wronged, betrayed, mistreated, unfairly judged. You will take the strongest diamond-tipped pen and carve your words into the eternal rock. You are right. Let the world hear. And then, just to make sure it hears, you will add about eight more chapters of words after you said you will inscribe your words. You are full of words and your words will justify you.
But then, when Elihu speaks to you in 32-37 and God addresses you in 38-41, something begins to happen to you. Someone, a real live person, actually tells you that he won't flatter you and that he will give a different "take" on your problem. But his take isn't solely a judgmental one like your friends. He says some things that aren't always clear, but you hear him saying things that seem to strum a different chord on the instrument of your heart. It is as if you had been previously playing only the lowest register of your life's-harp and Elihu was now trying to introduce you to the shorter strings, those across which the angelic harpist so skillfully glides with curling and tender plucking when she plays.
But it takes Elihu four speeches to get to you, doesn't it? You are so firmly fixed on your rightness, so powerfully committed to your take on things, that you are in no mood to receive an alternative explanation. And, you might also have thought, 'what a jerk this Elihu is! He can't even get to what he wants to say. Here am I, Job, the greatest man in the East, and I can get to what I want to say. I slice through all the unnecessary words with skill and quickness. I get to the heart of the issue right away. What an incredible boob you are, Elihu.' Was that your first reaction to him, Job? I bet it was, because I know how you spoke to your friends as the book wore on. You really didn't suffer fools gladly.
Job, forgive me, but I need to take a little break and then join you for the next talk.