>I’m finally back! I have so greatly missed having the time to post on this blog. Unfortunately, our ten day plumbing battle put me behind on more than just blogging, and those other things are frustratingly more pressing. But, it looks like I might be approaching that time when I can catch up on the thoughts swirling about in my head that I would love to type out.
Let me start with a brief thought from Job. I’m about two-thirds of the way through the book, and it’s definitely been more eye-opening this time than ever before. Several weeks ago I wrote on my challenge blog about the desire to move past Job being a “chore book.” And, I have seen the Lord answer the prayer I prayed over the book. One of the thoughts He presented to me, though, is not from a specific chapter or verse, but from the overall perspective of the book.
Job has experienced devastating loss followed by debilitating disease. He has some friends who come to offer comfort and consolation. Why they felt they needed to come is debatable – I have my own theories that at some point I might share, but I don’t necessarily have Biblical basis for them. So, for now I’ll stick to something a little more established. The point is that they came. When they arrived they were so horrified at the condition of Job that they couldn’t even say anything for days! They just sat there with him in silence. But then they started talking, and once they started they just couldn’t stop! Job’s friends had their idea of why Job was suffering so much. Maybe they thought they could just come in, say what they thought, and have Job say, “Oh, yes, great friends! Thank you for revealing the mystery to me! I am completely indebted to your wisdom and understanding, and I will follow your advice and see the end of my suffering!” When Job didn’t respond in the way they expected, they grew very frustrated with him, and a lengthy series of debates was begun. The intent to comfort was replaced with debate and then anger. It got to the point of bringing Job to this response: “How long will you torment me
And crush me with words? “These ten times you have insulted me;
You are not ashamed to wrong me. Job 19:2-3 (NASB)
All of this has been rolling around in my mind as I have contemplated how we handle suffering around us. Like Job’s friends, we often think we know just what will make it all better. We step in to help, but then we get frustrated when our help is not received. “If they would just listen to reason,” we say, “it would all be better!” But would it really? Are we always right?
Suffering is all around us. I can give you a huge list of names of friends of mine who are struggling and suffering in one way or another. I could also give you my idea of how they should respond in their suffering, and I’m sure they could give you their idea of how I should handle some of my own circumstances. But, that’s not what we’re intended to do. We’re told to bear one another’s burdens and encourage one another, not to tell each other what to do or to make deductions regarding the source of everyone’s problems.
So, how do we do that? What’s the correct approach? I can’t give a pattern or an outline for how to help one another, other than to say this…pray! Don’t speak, don’t act, just pray. Sometimes God will lead us to do or say something. And sometimes when we do or say something after praying, it will be received well, but other times it might be received badly. That’s not our problem. We don’t need to continue debating. We don’t even need to feel personally accepted or rejected. We simply need to each have a clean conscious before our Lord and Savior and let Him take care of the rest. And we can do that if we let each circumstance bring us to our knees in prayer first, last, and all the way through.