Miserable Comforters

Bible Reading: Job 11; 12; 13; 14 - Listen

Fed up with their accusations and lectures, Job finally said to his friends, "Miserable comforters are you all! Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing? I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you. But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief" (16:1-5). "If you want to offer comfort, then listen to me" (21:2 CEV). "I want someone to plead with God for me, as one pleads for a friend" (16:21 TEV).

I am sure that anyone who has endured chronic illness or suffered the loss of a loved one could share with us some of the stupid and insensitive comments that people make when they are at a loss for words. Job's "miserable comforters" gave us an example of what not to do in the presence of those who suffer. His "friends" felt like they had to fill in the awkward silence with noise, but their words were empty and tactless. They presumed to know the mind of God and forced their arguments on Job. They shook their heads at him, passing judgment and scorn. If the tables were turned, Job could have offered similar criticism and advice, but after having suffered, he learned how to comfort someone in pain. Those who endure personal suffering often become the best comforters.

May we seek to encourage and comfort those who suffer. May we plead with God on their behalf as one who pleads for his friends (16:21). May we offer support by patiently listening, allowing their words to fill the silence instead of our own. May we encourage, not with false hope and insincere platitudes, but with words of acceptance, affirmation and love. May our words and loving actions be a soothing balm that brings relief and healing to their weary souls.