Helping People Who Hurt

KEY VERSE: “To him that is afflicted pity should be showed from his friend, but he forsaketh the fear of the Almighty.” —Job 6:14

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Job 4:1, 7, 8; 8:1, 5-7; 11:1, 4-6; 13:1-5

JOB had three friends who endeavored to comfort him when they heard of all the evil which had come upon him. These were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naanathite.—Job 2:11

When these comforters first appeared in the presence of Job, they apparently were stunned by his condition, while Job himself was weighed down with pain and sorrow. So they all kept silent for seven days. It was a long vigil, but finally Job broke the silence. He did not curse God, but rued the day that he had been born, and expressed his belief that it would have been better for him had he died when he was a baby, or even if he had been “as infants which never saw light.”—Job 3:16

In expressing these thoughts Job explained that had he died in infancy he would have “lain still,” “been quiet,” “slept,” and “been at rest.” (vs. 13) Since, as God later testified, Job spoke the truth, we can rely on this explanation of the state of infants in death as being correct. They are not in heaven, nor are any of them predestined to an eternity of torture. Moreover, Job explains that as an infant in death he would have slept with “kings and counselors of the earth,” “with princes that had gold,” with the “wicked,” and with the “small” and the “great.”—vss. 14-19

In this third chapter of the book we have Job’s opening speech to those who came to comfort him, but who turned out to be accusers. What he said was the outpouring of a heart saddened by a series of calamities which would have completely crushed most, and which had, indeed, caused his wife to believe that he was cursed of God. But the reply of his comforters was no help. Eliphaz answered, “Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees. But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled.”—Job 4:3-5

This was simply telling Job he did not have sufficient strength of character to apply to himself the instructions he had so often given to others. It reveals, however, that Job had been esteemed as a religious instructor and counselor. It probably was true, as so many in like experiences have found, that it was more difficult to bear up under trial than it was to counsel others to do so. It was cruel, nevertheless, to bring this so emphatically to Job’s attention. But even worse was the implied accusation which followed: “Who ever perished, being innocent? Or where were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed.”—Job 4:7-9

This was equal to saying that if Job were innocent of special and willful wrongdoing he would not have been afflicted. In brief, the view insisted upon by these ‘comforters’ was that God always rewards righteousness and loyalty with material prosperity and health, and also that the only ones in the world who suffer are the unrighteous, the sinners—those who defame God and disobey his precept.

This was then, and is now, contrary to the facts. During the reign of sin and death, while Satan is permitted to be the “god of this world,” the wicked have often flourished, while the righteous have suffered. Long centuries later, the Prophet Malachi wrote, “Now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.”—Mal. 3:15

Job expressed the same thought in his reply. He said, “The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure.” (Job 12:6) After listening long to his would-be friends, and realizing that basically their reasoning was wrong, Job can be excused for being somewhat sarcastic when he said, “No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.”—vss. 1,2

Although Job was crushed by his hard experiences, and did not understand why the Lord permitted them to come upon him, yet in faith he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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