“She said WHAT?”
I tried to keep my mouth closed, but shock tugged hard on my jaw. My friend had recently lost a close family member and had gone through a period of deep grief. She told me about a recent conversation where another “friend” chided her for her grief, suggesting she hadn’t really sought the Lord for healing.
Because I was smack-dab in the middle of teaching through Job, I flashed back to his situation. The friends who came to visit, friends who should have encouraged him, blamed his suffering on unconfessed sin and a bunch of other terrible things:
- Are not your sins endless?
- You stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked …
- You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry …
- you sent widows away empty-handed …
- that is why it is so dark you cannot see … (Job 22:5-11)
On and on they went, accusing him of everything that popped into their minds.
I couldn’t help but ponder a different scenario. One in which the friends, satisfied that Job had done business with the Lord, shifted gears and encouraged Job with things like,
Gosh, dude. I’m sorry you’re hurting so bad. Can I get you some salve?
I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but the fact that you can get out of bed every morning amazes me. You’re stronger than you know, and God won’t waste that.
You know what? No matter how long this lasts, I’m here with ya, pal. And when you come out of this and have the chance to help somebody else who’s hurting, I’m going to be right there next to you.
I don’t even want to think about some of the boneheaded words I’ve unwittingly spoken in attempt to be helpful. All I can do I ask God to give those folks a little divine memory loss, or hope they’ve showered me with grace.
I KNOW I’ll still say stupid things from time to time, but hopefully I won’t say them very often. I learned something from Greg Laurie (Harvest Ministries) that’s helped me THINK first:
Is it truthful?
Is it helpful?
Is it inspiring?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?
Sometimes confrontation is necessary and we need to speak the truth in love to a friend who needs to hear it. But I’ve found those times to be few and far-between. More often than not I sense the Lord calling me to speak comfort and encouragement.
You can find my other posts here: When Suffering Doesn’t Make Sense.