Wednesday, November 5, 2014
4 ways to be a terrible comforter
“I have heard many such things;
miserable comforters are you all.
Shall windy words have an end?
Or what provokes you that you answer?
I also could speak as you do,
if you were in my place;
I could join words together against you
and shake my head at you."
Job's assessment of the non-comfort given to him by his friends is worth examining. At all points they failed to be true friends to him at his deepest pain and loss. Job notices four problems with their attempts at comfort and counsel.
PROBLEM #1: They talked too much. He has had it with their speeches. And really, if they had learned to listen to Job, they would have been better comforters. Counsel is not found in speeches, lectures, diatribes, or sermons to sufferers. His word picture of "windy words" that never end shows the frustration that their constant speech-making was stirring in Job's soul.
PROBLEM #2: They counseled with "attitude". Job could tell that his friends were provoked by anger, outrage at his answers, emotional upset in his responses, etc. Their counsel was coming from the source of their frustrations with him, and not from caring hearts trying to understand him. Their counsel was easily degenerating into helpless argumentation because they had to be right in order to prove Job in the wrong. It simply was not the time for that kind of interaction.
PROBLEM #3: They said nothing new or of relevance to his situation. Job's way of putting it: "I'd easily do the same if I was in your shoes." His observation is that they were simply ganging up with easy answers, not thinking things through, not bothering to know his heart. It's easy to gang up on someone in this way when they complain. Shutting them down is not however solving their problem. It complicates things. Nothing helpful comes from this tactic.
PROBLEM #4: They judged him. Job complained that they were "against" him and by shaking their heads, body language showed that they judged him as clearly in the wrong. They were to be comforters and not judges. Criticism and judgment are not counsel and are never comforting.