Spend time in prayer and silence with God asking Him to meet with you and speak to you.
Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied. . .
“Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished?
Where were the upright ever destroyed?
As I have observed, those who plow evil
and those who sow trouble reap it.
At the breath of God they are destroyed;
at the blast of his anger they perish. . .
“A word was secretly brought to me,
my ears caught a whisper of it.
Amid disquieting dreams in the night,
when deep sleep falls on men,
fear and trembling seized me
and made all my bones shake.
A spirit glided past my face,
and the hair on my body stood on end.
but I could not tell what it was.
A form stood before my eyes,
and I heard a hushed voice:
‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
Can a man be more pure than his Maker?
If God places no trust in his servants,
if he charges his angels with error,
how much more those who live in houses of clay,
whose foundations are in the dust,
who are crushed more readily than a moth!
Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces;
unnoticed, they perish forever.
Are not the cords of their tent pulled up,
so that they die without wisdom?’
– Job 4:1, 7-9, 12-21
Have you have ever said the wrong thing to someone who was suffering? Perhaps you were seeking to speak a comforting word, or to demonstrate your support. Instead, when you opened your mouth, the wrong words came out and you quickly realized that what you said was not as helpful as you intended. This has certainly happened to me!
If you feel bad about saying the wrong thing to someone who is suffering, read through the book of Job and you’ll feel better. You probably didn’t say something as harsh as what Job’s friends said to him while he was experiencing unbearable loss! As we look at the speeches of Job’s friends, we see major misconceptions about suffering.
The primary misconception that we see in the book of Job is the idea that experiencing suffering is due to one’s own sin. Job’s friends believed that he had clearly done something wrong to deserve the suffering that he was facing; God must have been punishing Job for something. This idea is simply not true. There are instances where people face suffering as a direct result of their own wicked actions such as when they commit a felony and end up in prison. This is not the sort of situation Job was facing. Whether it is you or somebody you know who is suffering, remember that we should not automatically assume that it is a punishment from God.
THE BIG QUESTION
Sometimes we struggle with the question “why?” when we are in pain. Have you ever accused someone (whether yourself or someone else) for causing their own suffering? Even if it were true, would pointing it out be kind, compassionate and helpful at that time?
Conclude your time in prayer and silence, reflecting on God’s Word.