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 were sincere believers in Christ but they missed God somehow, and caused this grieving brother to stumble! Their words were not comforting, but condemning and judgmental.
In today’s reading Job’s friends again try to help him see his faults. It is amazing how we can see the faults of another person and easily recommend the remedy! 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 ways, not that of another person! Job’s friends attacked his character and accused him of a lack of understanding of God. (Job 15:3-5) He was accused of being impure and therefore under God’s wrath. (Job 15:30)
Job’s response to these accusations was 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. He wondered why God had broken and crushed him. He was depressed but stated that his advocate was on high and his witness was in heaven. (Job 16:19) Job knew by revelation and faith 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 allow 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!