What Do You Say To Those Who Are Suffering?
Updated: Jan 8
A Devotional Thought from Job 2:11–13
11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. 12 And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. 13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great. Job 2:11–13
What do you say to those that are suffering?
Many negative things have been said about the friends of Job. They will become hasty in their assumptions about him and will prove themselves judgmental, theologically ignorant and just plain sinful. God will punish most of them at book’s end because of hurtful words spoken toward their friend and will not relent until Job prays for them. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
In today’s passage the friends of Job are unbelievably great!
I am touched by the actions of this suffering man’s companions. You see, Job has had what the world would call a string of of really bad luck. In a very short period Job has lost almost everything. He has become financially bankrupt, physically unhealthy and even his family is gone. His children have been tragically killed and his relationship with his wife is less than a source of comfort. Job has lost it all it seems, but Job still has friends. The Bible says that they made an appointment together to come to his side. Job is so grief stricken and so covered with painful boils that they can barely recognize him.
What will they do for their friend? What will they say?
They sat down.
For a while, they didn’t speak a word.
They wept with him.
That is all, at least for a week.
They sat with him in silence for seven days without even saying a word.
Yes, you read that right, they sat silently with their friend and shared his pain for seven days. What an amazing gift these friends brought to Job that week. His grief no doubt Was depressing and brought them down. Who in the world knows if those boils were contagious? They risked the infection. It doesn’t appear he had anything good to eat in his fridge and still they stayed. I’m guessing they had to burn some of their PTO.
They were willing to give him uncomfortable, unpleasant, valuable time!
Have you ever wondered what to say to a friend that is suffering?
I know I have. I searched for the right word to bring comfort, to motivate them to keep going to point them to wonderful, life giving Biblical truth. What is the right thing to say?
Could the answer be nothing? Is there a chance that they might just need to know they are not alone? Could it be that they don’t want a sermon or a pep talk? What if there are occasions when they don’t need your money but they could use you? It is possible that they need your presence more than your presents.
I can honestly say that I have had friends that have done similar things and I am grateful.
Job was not alone in his grief and neither are you! Even if today you feel you have no selfless friends to share your sorrows I want you to know that you have a friend in Jesus. He has promised you that he will never leave you or forsake you. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and he is faithful and true.
While my friends have been great and helpful, their efforts were just not enough. I found my Savior through prayer and his word to be able many times to fill that gap my great friends couldn’t fill. Jesus used them to help me and then did so much more.
My challenge for myself and for you is to be a better friend and make sure to never forget the best friend you ever had in the Lord.