Miserable comforters!

Scripture reading for May 23rd: Job 15-17

I had a friend whose twin brother had cancer.  This friend was a newer Christian and we belonged to a charismatic church that was into the hyper-faith message.  Some in the church told my friend that if he had enough faith, his brother would not die.  In a few months, the brother did pass away and some in the church told him it was because of his lack of faith.  They then went with him to the funeral home and tried to raise this brother from the dead.  They were sincere believers in Christ, but they missed God somehow, and caused this grieving brother to stumble because of their misguided beliefs!  Their words were not comforting, but condemning.

In today’s reading Job’s friends take on another round of trying to help him  see his faults.  Isn’t it amazing how we can see the faults of another person and feel that we can clearly see their problem and the solution!  Theologians and students of the Bible often get proud about what they know and forget that what they are studying is God’s heart and His way, not that of another person!   Job’s friends again attack his character and accuse him of a lack of understanding of God.  (Job 15:3-5)  Job is told that his sin has caused his mouth to be crafty and deceitful.  He is accused of being impure and therefore under God’s wrath. (Job 15:30)

Job’s response to this further accusation is to label his friends “miserable comforters”.  (Job 16:2)  Job needed encouragement and understanding.  He needed someone to pray with him and seek God’s help and answers.  Job was in despair over these latest accusations and the trouble he was experiencing.  He wondered why God had shattered him and broken and crushed him.  He was depressed but stated that his advocate was also on high and his witness was in heaven.  (Job 16:19)  Job seemed to know that although his physical state was broken, God still loved him and would help him.

As I think on this passage, I realize that I have been the “miserable comforter” to some.  Sometimes it is easy to have glib answers and quote standard Bible texts.  God wants us to have His heart of compassion for the hurting and downcast.  We must listen to them and hear their heart.  Sometimes this alone is the best thing we can do.  We must seek to let the Holy Spirit speak through us and address the real needs.  What is on the surface is not always the real issue.  My prayer today is that I would be sensitive to each hurting person that I encounter and that God would use me to be a true friend!

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