It Takes A Village – Week 15
Ill-Advised Words Of Comfort
The name Job is likened with the term suffering. It is almost as if we are unable to see beyond what Job went through in his human existence to witness the beauty within it. Job was a righteous man, wealthy, well liked, and found favour in God’s eyes for he was honest, bled integrity, and was devoted to God. But alas, Job suffered. Greatly.
Scripture describes the enemy of our soul- Satan- like a lion prowling the earth for his prey. And he preyed upon Job petitioning God’s throne to do damage to Job’s life in order to manipulate Job into cursing God’s name. God gave Satan what he demanded, the only stipulation that he could not stretch out his hand in order to hurt him.Hurt being a most debatable word for many because Job was battered mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically as his health was attacked. But Job had breath to breath. Words to speak. Of that Satan could not take away.
Losing his family, his fortune, and everything in-between, Job was at a loss. Even his own wife encouraged him to curse God’s name. But Job refused instead choosing to lament to God questioned His sovereignty over his life. We encounter three friends by the names of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar who travelled from afar to keep Job company and offer him comfort during his time of distress. Scripture reveals to us how torn these men were in their grief for their friend, barely recognizing him for the pain had changed Job greatly.
But Job calls out his friends and their ill-advised words of comfort blowing the whistle on their lack of faith in God Almighty. God didn’t mess up. He did not assign trouble to the wrong servant. He did not make a mistake in dishing out consequences. Job recognized that the village he belonged to did not understand the God he honoured even though he suffered.
In the words of Eugene Peterson, “Pity can be nearsighted and condescending; shared suffering can be dignifying and life-changing.” Do we embrace the suffering of those in our village lifting them to God Almighty, or are we akin to Job’s well intentioned friends sharing in their grief yet offering our own ill-advised words of comfort? It is easier to find wisdom within a situation from an outside perspective than and inside one, but that doesn’t necessarily make it right. Adversity has the ability to strengthen the community around us or cause it to come crumbling down. And life is riddled with suffering and grief. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons we can learn in how to strengthen our village comes from Job and his unwavering faith in the midst of chaos choosing to turn his questions to God in his time of trouble. Too often we are quick to seek answers from those arounds us, but the truth is that we are all in this life together and the answers aren’t so easily found. Let us embrace the suffering of those in our community offering our prayers in petition to the only One who has the answers we seek.
Father, help me to embrace the suffering of others seeking the beauty in the brokenness that is life. Too quick am I to offer answers when my lips should be turned to Your ear and not someone else’s. Though suffering is part and parcel in life, we are never alone nor without Your presence through it all. In Jesus name, amen.