Which one are you?
Seems a strange question, I suppose, but not if taking account of Job's suffering. For the past six weeks we have been reading about Job's great suffering and many of those chapters consisted of deep conversations between Job and his friends. These friends meant well, they really did, but when they could no longer make sense of Job's sufferings their encouragement turned to rebuke. There is a few things I think we can learn from these friends, good and bad. Let's look at the good:
"When three of Job's friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words." ~ Job 2:11-13
When Job's friends heard of his suffering, they wanted to help him. They cared and loved their friend enough to drop what was going on in their own lives just to let Job know they cared and he wasn't alone. There are a few things in this portion of Scripture that stand out to me as what to do to show those suffering that we love them.
*Show up - Drop what you are doing and just be there.
*Grieve for them - Cover them in prayer asking God to let you carry some of their burden.
*Stay - True suffering doesn't last only a moment, it tends to last awhile. Don't just show up, offer help, and leave. Make sure they know you are walking this with them. Spend time with them, check in on them, do the things you know are helpful without being asked and let them know you are a quick phone call away if they need you.
*Just listen - We must know when to be quiet. There is a time for talking, encouragement and even small talk, but... when others are suffering the best we can do for them is to listen and pray.
Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar had good intentions and they came to Job to comfort and console him. But what happened? Beginning in chapter three, Job finally speaks. He tries to put his suffering into words. It is at this time that his friends begin their comforting, but it quickly turns to something else. These friends had no answer for the tragedy Job was living out. All they could surmise is that Job must be guilty of great sin to suffer in the ways that befell him. For many chapters, their comforting was nothing more than an argument with the man who was suffering! Where did they go wrong? They assumed.
Yes, it's true that suffering can be a direct result of our own sin, and those situations are usually pretty transparent. But Job's situation was different. God Himself spoke of Job's integrity, but Job's friends did not know this. And there lies the problem: they did not know. We cannot comfort someone with assumptions. We cannot declare, in our own wisdom, what God is allowing. If we are not absolutely sure of something, we shouldn't speak of it.
"I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are! Won't you ever stop blowing hot air?
What makes you keep on talking? I could say the same things if you were in my place. I could spout off criticism and shake my head at you. But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief." ~ Job 16:2-5
Job had finally had enough. He knew of his innocence and he also knew how he would comfort others that may suffer such great trials. He would encourage those hurting and he would try to ease their pain. Let's do the same. May we be the encouraging, comforting hand that helps relieve some of the pain to those who suffer among us. May we use our own trials to help comfort others.
"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with His comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us." II Corinthians 1:3-7
It's a lot easier to comfort someone who is suffering if you have walked that same road. I have been an unwed teenage mother and have been dragged through custody battles trying to keep my child. I have suffered secondary infertility and I have lost a precious baby in the womb. I have lost people close to me. I have lived second hand to severe anxiety and I have watched my oldest child walk away from me at a young age. I have had my share of suffering, but I count it all as joy if God can use even a slither of it to bring comfort to someone else and ultimately bring that person to Him.
It's harder still to comfort those when we don't know what their going through. I can't relate to those who grew up in an abusive home, or those who were widowed or orphaned. I haven't walked those roads, but...... I can love them, I can encourage them and I can be their listening ear when they need it.
So, how about you? What will you be, a miserable comforter or an encouraging friend?
I'm praying for you, Sweet Sister, whether you are the one suffering or you are the one comforting.
Keep reading God's Word!
For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. "
Hi! I'm Andrea, wife to my handsome hubby, homeschooling mama to my 5 amazing blessings (with one more on the way), and daughter of the King of kings. I am so glad you have stopped by my little piece of the web. My prayer is that the Lord will use this blog to encourage you in your personal, daily walk with Christ.