Scripture: Job 4:1 Then Eliphaz (a friend of Job) answered him 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?”
Observation: Job endured immense tragedy in a short period of time, no question about it. His three friends went to be with him and sat silently with him for 7 days mourning with Job. Then Job finally opened his mouth to speak – and cursed the day he was born. Job was clearly angry with God, but stopped short of cursing God. Job’s friend Eliphaz pointed out that Job had often comforted others in their grief, but in the face of his own grief he is “impatient” and “dismayed”.
Application: As most of you know, I’m pastor by vocation. As such, I’m invited into the difficult life situations of others more than most people. I’ve learned that it’s hard to know how I’ll respond to something if I’ve never experienced it myself. Serious illness. Death. Financial calamity. Relational blow-ups.
Yet, whether I have experienced a particular situation or not, I’m called upon to support others in their grief and loss. As are you. I mean, you don’t have to be a pastor to accompany others in their hours of need. Today’s passage reminds me to resist the temptation to minimize the suffering of others, or too quickly offer trite words of support, or assume I would respond differently were the shoe on the other foot. We can never truly know someone else’s grief.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, today I pray for all those in the midst of suffering and grief. I especially life up the family of my old friend Stephen, my college roommate, who died last week – far too soon. Receive him into your care as one of your own and comfort those who mourn his loss. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.