Tough love…

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Job 4 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered: 2 “If one ventures a word with you, will you be offended? But who can keep from speaking? 3 See, you have instructed many; you have strengthened the weak hands. 4 Your words have supported those who were stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. 5 But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed. 6 Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?

Job has gone through devastating loss, so his three good friends come to his side. After spending seven days and nights with Job, just sitting with him in silence, one of his friends speaks. And it’s a bit of tough love.

4 Your words have supported those who were stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. 5 But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed.

It’s pointed out that Job has counseled many over the years when they were going to through hard times. Now, he is the one in desperate need – but does not appear to be living up to his own advice. Ouch…

I know what this is like. Do you? It’s often easier to speak into someone else’s life than to discern your own path, especially under duress. Under pressure we can slip into what is called “reptilian” brain, functioning in either “fight” or “flight” mode. In this frame of mind, it’s hard to carefully weigh options and make sound decisions. Instead we panic or shut down completely.

I wonder, are you a bit like Job this morning? Are you in the midst of a stressful time in which good options are hard to come by? Do you find yourself in a bit of panic (even if it’s only on the inside), or perhaps you’re simply shutting down altogether? If so, please know you have lots of company – you’re just not aware of the ways others suffer with you.

Or perhaps you’re more like Job’s friend Eliphaz. You’re responding to a friend or love-one who is struggling and want to be helpful. How can you be both supportive of the one dear to you, but speak truth when appropriate?

Hint: start with love and support, then pivot to difficult truth if necessary. 

The bible says we are to “speak the truth in love”. There is an order to this. Start with love, then go to truth.

Lord Jesus, many people struggle, including some reading this blog post. Give us grace to experience your hope in our troubles and to support others when we can. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.

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