(October 17, 2014)
Elihu is an interesting character in Job. Of all the characters, he alone escapes the criticism from the Lord at the end. Job is criticized for asking in ignorance (not even understanding the question he is asking). The other three elders are criticized and called to sacrifice for their words. But Elihu is not – lending substantial weight to the words that he is saying.
And in that light, we see that his words are profound and important. He points out that when tragedy strikes, our first question should not be “why me?”, but rather “where is my sin and how can I repent?”. This is the case even with a man such as Job – one upright in all things.
The Lord does not idly cause us to suffer. Even when our suffering is the natural consequence of the actions (or even the sins) of others, the Lord is perfectly just and not a tear from our eyes will be wasted. Joseph Smith was certainly innocent of wrongdoing when he was imprisoned in Liberty Jail, and his captors were unquestionably evil. And yet the Lord promised Joseph that all of these things would work out for his good.
Holland spoke of how that
happened. He spoke of Liberty Jail as a temple-prison, and the
changes that were brought about in Joseph (and the Church) as a result of his
imprisonment. Understanding that this
change constituted repentance (as does all change for the better), we can take
courage in our suffering to know that our pain is an invitation from the Lord
We can, as Elihu counsels, call upon the Lord to teach us that which we see not – those defects in our individual characters that need repentance to be healed – and we are then invited, as was Job, where we have done iniquity to do it no more.