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Miserable Comforters

I have heard many such things. Miserable comforters are ye all! (Job 16:1-2, KJV)

"Miserable comforters" -- this is what Job called his three friends, who had come to comfort him. But what were they doing wrong? Job's friends had made great sacrifices on his behalf. They had dropped all of their own affairs and came rushing to be by Job's side. They stayed with him for seven whole days without saying a word, because they saw how great his pain was. Job's friends had also said many things to encourage him. Read Job 1-15 over again for yourself and see. For example, here is Eliphaz:

" But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before Him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He bestows rain on the earth; he sends water upon the countryside. The lowly He sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away. Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night. He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; He saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth. Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal. From six calamities He will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you." (Job 5:8-19 NIV)

Here is Bildad:

"Surely God does not reject a blameless man or strengthen the hands of evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Your enemies will be clothed in shame, and the tents of the wicked will be no more." (Job 8:20-22, NIV)

Here is Zophar:

"Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor. (Job 11:13-19, NIV)

Essentially they are saying to Job, "Seek God, and trust in Him. Cleanse your heart from sin, pray, and God will restore you." Don't we say the same things when we comfort others? Are we better comforters than Job's friends? Or can we even begin to measure up to their level? For we rarely spend more than a few minutes with those who are afflicted, while Job's three friends dropped all their business and stayed with Job constantly for seven days!

In the next article ('The Ways of the Comforter'), we discuss practical ways in which we can become genuine comforters of those who are afflicted.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we acknowledge that we too are "miserable comforters". We do not even attain the level of Job's three friends. Teach us to comfort others, as You have comforted us. Empower us by Your Holy Spirit, Your Comforter, whom You made available to us through Your death on the Cross.

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Last Revised: December 6, 2000

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