Miserable Comforters

Job 16:4-5
I also could speak as you do,
If your soul were in my soul’s place.
I could heap up words against you,
And shake my head at you;
But I would strengthen you with my mouth,
And the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.

Job’s friends make a basic mistake.  They bring up true but unhelpful things.  They blame instead of bolster.  It isn’t so much that they speak error, although they occasionally veer that way.  They misapply abstract doctrinal truth to Job’s specific situation.

Of course, all men have sinned and deserve death and hell.  But it may not be time to raise that when your friend goes bankrupt, all his children die tragically, and he comes down with a chronically painful disease.

Can we grieve with those who grieve without giving a theology lecture?  Can we speak truth while being sensitive to the anxieties and difficulties of our friends?

Job’s friends could not, and they provoked him to the brink of blasphemy, instead of pointing him to his good and sovereign Creator.

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