I also could speak as ye do: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake mine head at you. But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief. Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased?
Sometimes we have a bad habit of blaming people for their own problems even if it is not their fault. That’s the easy thing to do. It is what Job’s friends were doing to him. They kept insisting he was guilty of something, that he was a hypocrite, that he was hiding some sin in his heart and refusing to admit it. They were kind of saying that only wicked people would suffer as Job was.
But to Job, what they were saying was not helping at all. Their words brought him no comfort. And he tells them that if they were going through what he was dealing with, he would offer something helpful to try to lessen their pain, not make it worse. A heart of grace and compassion will seek to comfort, to help, to ease a burden, not cast judgment or condemnation. It’s about showing love even if he did mess up.
May we use our words to help, not to hurt. May we seek to be gracious with what we say, especially when people are already suffering. If sin is the cause of their trouble, we don’t approach someone with a harsh and judgmental attitude, but we speak the truth in love with a right spirit. If someone is facing trouble, like Job, seemingly through no fault of their own, we can be supportive and just bear through it with them. We are not going to have all the answers to other people’s problems, but we don’t have to make their suffering worse by treating them poorly in the midst of it.
Sometimes we can be critical of others, thinking that we are helping. But words of encouragement can go a long way in helping someone through a difficult situation. Job was in the depths of a great personal darkness. He was absolutely miserable. He was emotionally and physically spent, and the words of his friends only hurt him more. When our friends are hurting and need strength and comfort, let us seek to do what Job says he would do and strengthen them and ease their grief with our presence and our words. Let’s be supportive friends when tragedy strikes someone we love and care about.