Job 33:12-15 (ESV)
Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you,
for God is greater than man.
Why do you contend against him,
saying, ‘He will answer none of man’s words’?
For God speaks in one way,
and in two, though man does not perceive it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men,
while they slumber on their beds,
Young Elihu is speaking to set Job straight in this chapter. Job's friends insisted that he was sinful because bad things happen to bad people. Elihu has a slightly different take. Job had been crying out a desire to present his case before God, and to hear from God. Elihu calls Job to present his case before Elihu, and claims that God has already spoken. Job just isn’t listening.
Two thoughts catch my attention as I think on Job 32. First is the arrogance of Elihu to think that he can hear Job’s case on behalf of God. I have to wonder how many times I have displayed that same arrogance. How many times have I treated others as though I were the ear and voice of God? I can be an ear for a brother. I can give counsel based on my understanding of God’s Word, and the indwelling Spirit of God. But, I am not the voice of God.
As believers, we must be careful not to step across that line and put ourselves in the place of God. That is what cult leaders do. That is what abusive church leaders do. That is what abusive family leaders do. That is not what humble servants of God are called to do. Peter says of false teachers that, “In their greed they will exploit you with false words” (2 Peter 2:3). Elders, on the other hand, are to, “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2). I need to regularly reassess before God how I am leading.
The second thought that came to me relates to Elihu’s insistence that God has spoken to Job; Job just isn’t listening. Rather than recognizing that sometimes God allows his people to walk through a dry and barren spiritual and emotional wasteland, we insist that any bad experience must be the fault of the individual. We cast blame. We try to find quick fixes. “If only you would confess your sin, then things would be okay again. If only you would be honest about your sin, then God would lift the emotional fog and you would experience his glorious presence.” But the truth is, sometimes dark times in the life of the believer have nothing to do with sin in our lives. Sometimes it does. We need to honestly ask God to search our hearts and reveal any sin that may be lurking there. But, sometimes dark times are just the path God has called us to walk.
Times of great rain cause trees to grow big, but times of drought make trees strong. We like to quote verses like Isaiah 45:8, “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the LORD have created it.” We love verses like, Deuteronomy 32:2, “May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb.” We rejoice in verses like, Hosea 10:12, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” What we don’t like are passages like Job that reveal the darker side of the spiritual life. God sometimes allows dark times for no apparent purpose. The good news is that God uses those dry seasons of life to work his holiness and character in us in ways that seasons of blessing could never do. Perhaps we would do well to reflect more on passages like 1 Peter 1:3-9:
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,  who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,  obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
The truth that Elihu could not understand, the reality that Job’s friends could not imagine, is that sometimes God does not speak. What they cannot grasp is that even when God does not speak, he is still present. In the darkest times, in the driest seasons of life. God is there. We may not see him; we may not hear him; we may not sense his presence, but he is there. We can still trust him. In those times, we need to worry less about blame, and focus more on the faithfulness of the God we cannot see. He is there and we can trust him.