Encouraging others is something we need more of in this broken, messy world of ours, but it’s not always something we give freely or receive gracefully.
Some of us are gifted encouragers. And I do believe it’s a gift. We know just what to say and how to say it.
Some of us mean well. And I do believe we have the heart. We just don’t always know how to express ourselves well.
And then there are some who just don’t seem to have a clue. Like, are you even on the same planet?
One of the things that I can say about Job’s 3 friends: They came when Job needed them most. They showed up. They wailed loudly, tore their robes, and threw dust in the air over their heads to express their grief over all the terrible things that had happened to their friend.
And then they sat on the ground with Job for 7 days and 7 nights and said not one, single word because they saw Job’s suffering was too great for words.
Gosh. Those are what I call true friends.
But then, Job began to talk. To share his heart. And I guess his friends just didn’t like what was pouring out of his mouth. Instead of hearing a man who was deep in grief and living out an absolute nightmare, they heard a man who didn’t sound anything like the wise friend they’d always known.
I can’t help but wonder…did it frighten them?
Bless their hearts, they had started out so well.
I love that Job’s friend, Eliphaz, saw Job as an encourager.
“In the past you have encouraged many a troubled soul to trust in God; you have supported those who were weak. Your words have strengthened the fallen; you steadied those who wavered.” Job 4:3-4
Job cared about people.
But what happens when the encourager needs encouraging?
It’s just so sad Job’s friends weren’t as gifted at encouraging as Job.
Eliphaz says some really cool things about God that are true,
“He does great works too marvelous to understand…
He performs miracles without number…
He gives rain for the earth…
He gives prosperity to the poor and humble…”
but he didn’t have a lot of sympathy for his friend.
Even though he knew what kind of man Job was he still assumed Job needed correcting.
That all Job’s suffering was because Job had sinned.
While it’s certainly true God will bandage what He wounds, He will heal what He strikes, He will rescue again and again,
He doesn’t attack us the way Satan attacked Job.
Eliphaz wasn’t seeing Job and His circumstances through God’s eyes.
I thought, Hmmmmmm….
Sometimes I may have all the right words, but I’m misguided in my assumptions.
If I’m not mindful, I can be like Eliphaz.
I won’t have eyes to see.
Ears to hear.
A heart to understand.
Truthfully? None of Job’s friends had walked in his shoes.
They couldn’t empathize, but if they’d asked God for a heart like His they could’ve sympathized.
They could’ve spoken from God’s heart instead of their limited understanding.
They would’ve seen what God really saw in Job…a humble, righteous man of complete integrity and they would’ve sought to encourage him the way Job encouraged others.
This is what I hope for…to see the suffering as God sees them.
To look deep.
To encourage a troubled soul.
To support the weak.
To strengthen the fallen.
To steady the wavered.
‘Cause even if I haven’t walked in their shoes, I can have a heart that truly cares.
So can you.
With God’s help, I believe we can all be encouragers. Whether we cry along with a hurting friend or just sit in silence, sometimes our presence is the greatest gift.
But when we open our mouths to speak I believe God can give us words of truth, words to inspire, words to comfort, words to uplift and words to spark courage when needed.
I believe that.
Because it’s a gift.
Straight from the heart of God.
“All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Cor 1:3 &4
Faith, faith journey, faithful followers, grace, mercy, comfort of God, encourage one another, lift one another up, positive words, gift of God, comfort in suffering