HELP A HURTING FRIEND, BUT STOP PREACHING AT THEM
“After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.” (Job 42:7—9 NIV)
Job’s friends may have had the best intention of trying to help him out and speak for God but got in trouble when God confronted them. Sometimes, people have great intention when they see a loved one or a friend struggles. As noble as they intend to help, it sometimes doesn’t help.
Instead, it escalated the problem and ended in a shouting match, and blaming and accusations flew in the face of each other. Sometimes, people’s good intentions become the issue instead of the problem itself.
Job’s friends started to speak to him, and they started to argue instead of comforting him. They began to quote scriptures and preach at Joseph when all that could’ve been just be there and be quiet. Our presence is often the best comfort we can give people rather than our words.
Here, God was angry at all of Job’s friends who seemed to be using the occasion of his suffering to preach to him. They said many things to Job about God, yet God said, YOU HAVE NOT SPOKEN THE TRUTH ABOUT ME as my SERVANTS JOB HAS.
My takeaway today is that I must never come across as a knowing-it-all person when I talk to people. I must never come across quoting scriptures to people who are hurting. At best, I must be there with my mouth shut and my ears open with an understanding heart.
Quoting scriptures to a hurting heart is not the best way to help someone who is going through a painful experience. Sometimes, silence is golden when we try to comfort people.
God corrected Job’s friends, had them apologize to Job, and allowed him to pray for them. This reminded me of what the Apostle James wrote to believers: Be quick to listen, slow to anger, and slow to speak. People need to know first if I have empathy for them or if I am only interested in preaching and quoting scriptures to them.
I learned that I must first listen, listen, and then listen some more, and maybe never speak. I must rush to people’s side not to preach but to lend an ear and presence to be with them. Job prayed for his friends, and God received his prayers for them.
I needed to hear this today. I tend to speak first instead of listening. I am learning and want to better myself by developing an empathetic heart toward my family, my wife, my daughter, and then to all who need a listening ear. They are so convicting and good for my insensitive heart. I want to practice this more, learn how to relate to people, and serve them where they are.
Jesus, thank you for reminding me that it is better to listen and be there than to rush to preach and misspoke your truth to others. Please teach me how to be a person who is empathetic toward people who are hurting. Please help me to do that with Nori and Erika first. I need you, Lord, to teach me your heart and truth for those who need your kindness and love. Please help me to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, when to speak and when to shut up. Amen!