Thursday, October 08, 2015

Job's comforters

Job is visited by his three friends
"Job Is Visited by His Three Friends" - Artist Unknown


TO CHEW ON: "So they (Job's three friends) sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights and no one spoke a word to him for they saw that his grief was very great." Job 2:13

Life is full of bad news. We're always glad when that bad news isn't ours and we can comfort instead of grieve. How should we respond to someone who has lost a loved one through death, suffered a life-changing accident, or got the worst diagnosis?

We actually have two responses here:
  • Job's wife advised him to give up. "Curse God and die!" she said (Job 2:9). Having just listened in on the conversation between Satan and God, where Satan said, "But now, stretch out Your hand ... and he will surely curse You to Your face" (Job 1:11) the source of Job's wife's idea becomes clear. It was part of Satan's test, inspired by the father of lies and destruction himself. Job's answer was a definite 'no '(Job 2:10) and it was probably therapeutic for Job to hear himself put into words his faith in God in the face of all that had happened.
  • Job's friends also came to commiserate with him. These are the three men whose later attempts to comfort fell so flat people have coined the phrase "Job's comforter" to describe a person whose attempts to comfort hurt more than they help. But I would say that in today's reading, they did at least two things right:
- They came to be with Job.
- For one week they sat in silent empathy with him.
What are some other right things to do to comfort someone who is grieving. Rebecca's husband died of cancer in the prime of his life so she has had experience with grief. In an article called "What to do when someone you know dies," she gives ten suggestions of actions we can take after someone's death:

1. Send a card or letter.
2. Send flowers.
3. Give food.
4. Give to a good cause in the deceased person's name.
5. Visit.
6. Tell them your memories of their loved one.
7. Offer to do something specific for them.
8. Go to the funeral or memorial service.
9. Invite the family over for coffee.
10. Pray for them.
Of course the ways to comfort people going through other tragedies would be slightly different, but some of these items would apply.

Rebecca ends her article with this advice:
"The most important thing to remember is that exactly what you do isn’t as important as that you do something to acknowledge the death. If you’ve procrastinated until you’re afraid it’s too late, take heart; it’s not. A month later or half a year later, your gesture will still be appreciated. Who knows, it might even be more appreciated, because by then the dust has settled and reality has set in." Read entire article...

So before we dump all over Job's friends, let's give credit where it's due. They came and they sat with Job as he grieved the death of his kids and the state of his health. That was a good thing.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to have empathy with those who are grieving and to know how to show it in tactful and comforting ways. Amen.

MORE: A passage about comfort

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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