Week 10: Job’s friends
By Yolandé Korkie
Rom 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]” (Amp)
Over the past couple of weeks, we have briefly touched on the mystery of suffering, and the sovereignty of God. Maybe you have not only been the one that suffered but have been a friend of someone going through a difficult time and have wrestled with a response or how to support during such times. Anyone who has spent time with a suffering friend knows it is hard to remain alongside without trying to give answers. Our first reaction is to investigate what went wrong (like Job’s friends did) and find a solution. We would rather give a reason for suffering, even if it is wrong than accept that there is a mystery at the heart of suffering. Job’s friends yielded to this temptation, and it is quite possible for us to fall into the same trap.
Consider for a moment how much harm well-meaning Christians have caused by giving a quick answer to suffering? Answers such as: “Just have faith, then God will take away the suffering”, or “God will never send more adversity than you can handle”. How could we possibly know the reason for anyone’s suffering? How could we know all of God’s ways? Ps 139:6 makes it clear that God’s ways are often a mystery beyond our understanding.
Maybe one way we could provide support to a suffering friend is by admitting: “I don’t know the reason for your suffering.” And by committing to remain alongside our suffering friend, to be a tangible expression of God’s compassion in the darkest chapters of their lives.
Reflection: Has someone else’s suffering ever been used by God to teach you something in your own life?