by Kathy Collard Miller @KathyCMiller
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3 NKJV
As I talked to my friend, I was confident my words would make the difference in her life. It was obvious she had done everything wrong, and I was God’s emissary of truth. But the next day, as I continued my study of the book of Job, I became convicted about my motives and words for my friend. I had spoken just like Job’s “friends,” whom he described as “miserable comforters are you all” (Job 16:2 NKJV).
From my ongoing study I began learning what Job meant. He was a man stripped of everything: his children killed, his livelihood destroyed, and his body wracked with pain. Even his wife disrespected him and told him to die.
A group of friends arrived and initially did the best thing: sat grieving with him silently for seven days. Then everything changed. They began giving their opinions.
They tell him the innocent don’t suffer, so Job must have sinned. I can fall into this trap assuming the root cause of everyone’s problem is sin. But trials come from a variety of sources and for a number of reasons. I need to remind myself of that.
They make assumptions. I can falter in this way by seeing the evidence of one thing and also seeing something else, and assume the two are connected. But my assumption might well be wrong.
They talk a lot and don’t listen. Job tries to defend himself, but Job’s friends aren’t really hearing Job’s heart. I’m trying to remember to ask questions like: “Tell me in other words what you’re saying because I’m not sure I understand,” or “How do you define that word you’re using?”
They give pat answers and easy solutions. Zophar, one of Job’s friends was exceptionally good at this. In Job 11:13-17, he basically says, “if you will just do this, then everything will be perfect.” Most of the time there is no guarantee of a fast solution.
They take Job’s responses personally. I can also. If my friend doesn’t agree or do all I say, I am defensive. My focus is no longer on loving her well but trying to find a way to convince her of my goodness and wisdom.
Although sometimes I’m still tempted to think like a “miserable comforter,” I’m growing in my ability to:
- Listen more than talk.
- Ask more than assume.
- Remind myself a life story is complicated and complex.
- Know there are no instant solutions.
- Not make the story about me.
Job’s story ends beautifully as God takes over and brings clarification and truth. Job is restored in everything that was taken away and his nosey friends are put in their place by God.
About my conversation with my friend… I called her the next day to ask for her forgiveness about the ways I had been a “miserable comforter.” She graciously forgave me, yet also told me how God had been speaking to her. God had run with the ball which I had fumbled. He took my mistakes and went into the endzone for the touchdown.
About the author: Kathy Collard Miller loves to study God’s Word and see God as the “wise counselor.” She is the author of over 55 books, an international speaker, and lay counselor. Kathy is a wife to Larry, mother to two, and grandma to two. One of her most recent books is Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory, from which this post has been adapted. Visit her at www.KathyCollardMiller.com or Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor
or Pinterest/Kathyspeak. Youtube: https://bit.ly/2SwiL03 Instagram: @kathycollardmiller
Join the conversation: How do you resist being like one of Job’s “sorry comforters”?