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Whenever I read Job’s true story and how his friends treated him, my heart goes out to him. He’s in pain, and I feel it. He’s lost everything. Most acute was the loss of his children, instantly, immediately, in a moment. The deep, searing pain of loss is real in his life.  Grief has gripped his heart. His health has failed him. His wife has spoken discouraging words to him. It’s hard.

Within a week or so, his friends show up and do the best they possibly can for him. They sit with him in silence for seven days. I believe his friends care about him and want to help.

Job 2:11-13 (NLT)  Three of Job’s friends were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. When they heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to demonstrate their grief.  Then, they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. And no one said a word, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words. 

Unfortunately, the weeklong silence was broken, and then his friends began to talk. They made a lot of mistakes that we want to avoid. Job expresses the rawness of his heart, and his friends start to tell him what they think and their opinions and, quite frankly, say some harsh, hurtful things to him. They would be hurtful to someone who isn’t grieving. But to one in pain, the words came like a hot, searing stab.

From Job’s friends, we can learn a few things about how best to serve our grieving friends by being careful how we speak with them.

#1 – Your Grieving Friend Needs Your Encouragement.

Encouragement can be given in all sorts of ways. You could hang out in silence. You could bring food. You could help clean the house. You can run errands. When you think of encouragement, think of supporting, strengthening, and helping your friend in this dark night of the soul.  One way we don’t encourage those grieving is by making things more challenging for them by making the friendship about you.  Encourage them and watch the Lord use that in a huge way.

1 Thess 3:2 (NKJV) and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith

#2—Your Grieving Friends Need Your Love.

Love is expressed in many ways, similar to encouragement. Love and encouragement are intertwined. One way we don’t love those who are grieving is by sharing our opinion of the loss and actually blaming them for their unrighteousness. Job’s friends turned Job’s desperation into a theological discussion and disagreement. What a mistake. What a failure on their part.

1 Cor 13:4-8 (NKJV) Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 

3. Your Grieving Friend Needs You To Hear and Share From the Lord.

Job’s friends turned Job’s sorrow and pain into a theological discussion and argument. Subtly, they made Job’s loss an opportunity to express their opinions about God and Job.  Unfortunately, Job even took the bait and tried to defend himself. He began arguing with them from the vulnerable place he was in. It was a disaster and so unhelpful.  I know it’s hard to be around a grieving person. If you’re feeling that way, it’s true. What do I say? How do I say it?  This is a sensitive area, and I’ll share some things to say and not say in another blog. But for now, don’t make your friend’s pain about you and how you want to prove a point.  There is no point to prove. Your friend is hurting deeply. Pray for them. Pray with them. Hug them. Cry with them. Take them to the God of all comfort, who will bring all the comfort you need.

2 Cor 1:3-6 (NLT) All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.  So when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your benefit and salvation! For when God comforts us, it is so that we, in turn, can be an encouragement to you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 

4. Your Grieving Friend Needs You To Be There.

This isn’t necessarily your physical presence, but it often can be.  Today, with technology, you can be there for your grieving friend in many different ways.  You send an email with a poem or your thoughts. You can text them. You can call and ask if it’s ok to come over and hang out. Your presence can be so helpful.  Even if they don’t respond or don’t reciprocate, stay close and ready. As the dark cloud lifts, you’ll see your friendship grow. Wait on the Lord and obey Him. This is an area to be careful with, as your physical presence may not be wanted at the moment. Don’t take it personally, but instead, pray and seek another way to express your presence without placing an unneeded burden on your grieving friend.

Prov 27:17 (NLT) As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend. 

I’m thankful to the many who continue expressing so much love to our family.  Thank you. Don’t stop manifesting the love and grace of Jesus. Ever.

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To the Defeated and Discouraged

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