Then Job spoke again:
"Listen closely to what I am saying. You can console me by listening to me.
Bear with me, and let me speak. After I have spoken, you may mock me.
"My complaint is with God, not with people. No wonder I'm so impatient.
Look at me and be stunned. Put your hand over your mouth in shock.
When I think about what I am saying, I shudder. My body trembles.
"The truth is that the wicked live to a good old age. They grow old and wealthy.
They live to see their children grow to maturity, and they enjoy their grandchildren.
Their homes are safe from every fear, and God does not punish them.
Their bulls never fail to breed. Their cows bear calves without miscarriage.
Their children skip about like lambs in a flock of sheep.
They sing with tambourine and harp. They make merry to the sound of the flute.
They spend their days in prosperity; then they go down to the grave in peace.
All this, even though they say to God, 'Go away. We want no part of you and your ways.
Who is the Almighty, and why should we obey him? What good will it do us if we pray?'
But their prosperity is not of their own doing, so I will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking.
"Yet the wicked get away with it time and time again. They rarely have trouble, and God skips them when he distributes sorrows in his anger.
Are they driven before the wind like straw? Are they carried away by the storm? Not at all!
"'Well,' you say, 'at least God will punish their children!' But I say that God should punish the ones who sin, not their children! Let them feel their own penalty.
Let their own eyes see their destruction. Let them drink deeply of the anger of the Almighty.
For when they are dead, they will not care what happens to their family.
"But who can teach a lesson to God, the supreme Judge?
One person dies in prosperity and security,
the very picture of good health.
Another person dies in bitter poverty, never having tasted the good life.
Both alike are buried in the same dust, both eaten by the same worms.
"Look, I know your thoughts. I know the schemes you plot against me.
You will tell me of rich and wicked people who came to disaster because of their sins.
But I tell you to ask those who have been around, and they can tell you the truth.
Evil people are spared in times of calamity and are allowed to escape.
No one rebukes them openly. No one repays them for what they have done.
When they are carried to the grave, an honor guard keeps watch at their tomb.
A great funeral procession goes to the cemetery. Many pay their respects as the body is laid to rest and the earth gives sweet repose.
"How can you comfort me? All your explanations are wrong!"
Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
"Can a person's actions be of benefit to God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him?
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect?
Is it because of your reverence for him that he accuses and judges you?
Not at all! It is because of your wickedness! Your guilt has no limit!
"For example, you must have lent money to your friend and then kept the clothing he gave you as a pledge. Yes, you stripped him to the bone.
You must have refused water for the thirsty and food for the hungry.
After all, you think the land belongs to the powerful and that those who are privileged have a right to it!
You must have sent widows away without helping them and crushed the strength of orphans.
That is why you are surrounded by traps and sudden fears.
That is why you cannot see in the darkness, and waves of water cover you.
"God is so great -- higher than the heavens, higher than the farthest stars.
But you reply, 'That's why God can't see what I am doing! How can he judge through the thick darkness?
For thick clouds swirl about him, and he cannot see us. He is way up there, walking on the vault of heaven.'
"Will you continue on the old paths where evil people have walked?
They were snatched away in the prime of life, and the foundations of their lives were washed away forever.
For they said to God, 'Leave us alone! What can the Almighty do for us?'
But they forgot that he had filled their homes with good things, so I will have nothing to do with that kind of thinking.
"Now the righteous will be happy to see the wicked destroyed, and the innocent will laugh them to scorn.
They will say, 'Surely our enemies have been destroyed. The last of them have been consumed in the fire.'
"Stop quarreling with God! If you agree with him, you will have peace at last, and things will go well for you.
Listen to his instructions, and store them in your heart.
If you return to the Almighty and clean up your life, you will be restored.
Give up your lust for money, and throw your precious gold into the river.
Then the Almighty himself will be your treasure. He will be your precious silver!
"Then you will delight yourself in the Almighty and look up to God.
You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him.
Whatever you decide to do will be accomplished, and light will shine on the road ahead of you.
If someone is brought low and you say, 'Help him up,' God will save the downcast.
Then even sinners will be rescued by your pure hands."
Then Job spoke again:
"My complaint today is still a bitter one, and I try hard not to groan aloud.
If only I knew where to find God, I would go to his throne and talk with him there.
I would lay out my case and present my arguments.
Then I would listen to his reply and understand what he says to me.
Would he merely argue with me in his greatness? No, he would give me a fair hearing.
Fair and honest people can reason with him, so I would be acquitted by my Judge.
"I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him.
I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I turn to the south, but I cannot find him.
But he knows where I am going. And when he has tested me like gold in a fire, he will pronounce me innocent.
"For I have stayed in God's paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.
I have not departed from his commands but have treasured his word in my heart.
Nevertheless, his mind concerning me remains unchanged, and who can turn him from his purposes? Whatever he wants to do, he does.
So he will do for me all he has planned. He controls my destiny.
No wonder I am so terrified in his presence. When I think of it, terror grips me.
God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me.
Darkness is all around me; thick, impenetrable darkness is everywhere.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)