The Sunday Sermonette – Miserable Comforters.

     You remember poor, old Job, don’t you? There he was in the lap of luxury. Rich. Comfortable. His family large and successful. He was healthy, and life was good. He was righteous and faithful to God, too. He was truly blessed! Then, suddenly, his life took a turn, and Job lost it all. When all of his blessings were stripped away, he wrestled with the conflict of suffering while still believing in a just God. He prayed to God and humbly asked why.

     Because of his suffering, he turned to his dearest friends for comfort and advice. He knew they would have all the right answers. Instead, they condemned him for being the cause of his own suffering. They babbled on and on, sometimes mocking him, occasionally rude, oft times twisting his words. They told him that only evil people experience pain and suffering. Good, righteous people do not. In the end, he called them his “miserable comforters.”

     Job’s friends are good examples of the kind of friends we shouldn’t be. In times of personal suffering, be it physical or mental, we oftentimes need a shoulder to cry on, a bit of comfort in a crazy world. The Book of Job does, however, give many examples of how to be a better comforter to those in pain. Don’t talk just for the sake of talking. Listen more, talk less. Don’t lecture or moralize by giving pat answers. Don’t accuse or criticize. Put yourself in the other person’s place. Don’t forget the Golden Rule. Offer help, encouragement, and love.

     And remember: the best comforters are those who know something about personal suffering. Sometimes, our personal suffering shapes us for special service to others. One last thing about Job. He didn’t give up on God and God didn’t give up on him. In times of pain and suffering, don’t give up, don’t give in. Pray to God. Pray to Jesus. They’re never too busy to listen and love.

     Ponder this and go forth.