Whether we admit it or not, we all tend to lose more than a little bit of perspective when we face a touch of adversity. After all, I may or not have thought that my life was coming to an end the last time I found myself in the throes of a twenty-four hour stomach virus. Some people just do not handle these types of challenges well. Similarly, the vast differences on display when a storm destroys multiple homes and families lose all their possessions shows just how much adversity can affect us emotionally and cause us to forget our priorities rather quickly. When someone has problems with his children or with his spouse, or perhaps even with his employer, he can quickly become so obsessed about the problem that he can see nothing else.
In all of these situations, adversity creates a type of reality distortion field; we cease seeing things as they really are because we have blown our own problems all out of proportion. As amazing as it might seem, this is precisely what Elihu told Job he was doing. Job had lost his wealth, lost his children, and lost his health, which led Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar to accuse him of sin. However, rather than doing the same, Elihu concentrated on Job’s complaining about his situation that led him to call on God to offer an explanation. He did not deny Job’s suffering, and he did not assert that Job had done something wrong that led to his suffering. However, he did find Job at fault for concentrating so much time on his own problems that it caused him to lose perspective about his role in God’s creation. After another series in which Elihu exalted God’s power, he uttered these powerful words: “Remember to magnify His work, Of which men have sung” (Job 36:24). For Elihu, the problem Job suffered from was not sin that led to suffering but rather that his suffering was leading him into sin. By falling into the trap of justifying himself, he was spending too much time looking at himself in his own righteousness (even in defending himself against the charges laid before him) and not enough time looking to God in HIS righteousness.
Elihu’s charge offers a powerful reminder for all of us. No matter what we have going on in life—good or bad, big or small—we have a responsibility to keep life in perspective, and that will always mean magnifying God. If things are going well in your life, help people see God as the One who blesses you. If you are fighting through tough times, help people see God as the One who sustains you. Regardless of what you face in life, keep God at the center and be so aware of His power and majesty that you bring attention to Him rather than to yourself. While the apostle Paul was in prison waiting for Caesar to hear his appeal, his attention was not so much on his reason for suffering but on how he could use it for God’s glory, writing, “according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20). It is a perspective gained over years of faithfulness, enduring hardship, and working in the kingdom. And it is a perspective we all need to share.