My grandma used to say that people are like teabags. We find out what’s inside when they’re dropped in hot water. <Tweet that!>
Job’s life was dropped in hot water. Through the harshest of trials, Job’s faith-life was forced into the open — his true colors revealed. God affirmed that Job was, indeed, a man of integrity. And He told Job’s friends how wrong they were.
Job’s Three Amigos
When Job was suffering, he had three friends who visited him. They had good intentions. They wanted to help. But after a few days, they started offering advice that wasn’t very helpful. In fact, their words were downright hurtful.
Job’s friends saw the boils on his flesh, and they immediately assumed that Job had sinned in order to incur such a punishment from God. This appeared to be the only logical conclusion.
In their desire to “help,” these three amigos kept telling Job to repent. But Job insisted: I didn’t sin. I don’t know why this is happening to me. But I didn’t sin!
Job’s friends thought they were being helpful by telling Job what his problem was and how he ought to fix it. Unfortunately, they could only see with physical eyes. They couldn’t see with spirit eyes.
Despite their good intentions, they ended up causing more hurt because they assessed the situation with visible evidence. And they assessed wrongly.
One commentator said that Job’s friends were well-meaning, but presumptuous:
In trying to apply their best insights to help him to spiritual recovery, [they] unintentionally add to his pain. What he needs is compassion, not advice” (Andersen 71).
I think this is true in a lot of situations. Sometimes we just need compassion, not advice. <Tweet that!>
In any given situation, it takes humility to recognize that there are usually a few pieces of the puzzle we may not know anything about.
The conversation between God and Satan was a big piece of the puzzle, which none of them knew anything about. Job’s friends relied on their own intellectual reasoning, basing their judgments on what they could see with their eyes.
Worse still, they consulted with each other rather than beseech a holy God through prayer.
I can’t say that I’ve never done this myself. But I can say that I do this less and less. As much as I wish to have confidence in my own powers of reasoning, I am learning more and more that there are some matters in which I may not know every detail.
I don’t need to know everything either. I only need to be a person who constantly seeks God through prayer and consistently speaks words of healing to others. <Tweet that!>
Our Three Choices
At times, we’re the ones who experience suffering. But at other times, we’re the ones who witness suffering. And when we know someone who is suffering, we have three choices: hide, hurt, or help.
1. We Can Hide
We can hide from what’s really going on, ignore the suffering, and remain secluded in our own happy worlds. After all, “It’s not our problem.”
2. We Can Hurt
We can be present — but hurtful — by speaking critical, judgmental words. We can add insult to injury.
3. We Can Help
We can be present — and helpful — by speaking words of comfort and encouragement or by helping in some practical way. We can be an instrument of healing.
If a friend is hurting, I want to help. My guess is, you do too.
What are some encouraging ways
we could help someone who is suffering?
Andersen, Francis I., “Job: An Introduction and Commentary.” England: Inter-Varsity Press. 71.