- Job 15:1-17:16
Now that all three of Job's friends have had their say—each accusing Job of hiding some secret sin for which he is being punished—and Job has insisted that he is innocent, you would think that these friends would try and comfort him. But they don't. Eliphaz starts back up with his accusations that this suffering Job is experiencing just couldn't be for any other reason than GOD punishing Job for sinful living. Although it probably wasn't funny at the time, I can't help but laugh at Job's response to Eliphaz:
2 “I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you! 3 Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing? 4 I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you. 5 But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring you relief.
(Job 16:2-5 NIV)
Job is making a very valid point here. Here are these three "friends" who have come and stayed for over a week with him, supposedly for the purpose of comforting him, but all they've done is accuse him of being guilty and hiding some sin. Job is saying, "If you were the one who were suffering, I would be comforting you rather than accusing you. You've been of absolutely no help whatsoever."
When someone is suffering, we need to do what we can to help them, to comfort them. If we know they are guilty of sin, we certainly need to take advantage of any opportunities we have to encourage them to repent, but during the suffering is often not the best time. There is an old saying that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. We need to genuinely love people. In the case of Job, his three friends knew of nothing Job had done wrong. They asked, or more like accused, Job if he had sinned and he said no. Then, rather than focusing on doing whatever they could to ease Job's suffering, pain and sadness from losing his children and servants, they persist on accusing him.
All of this reminds me of a verse in the NT which says:
8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
(1 Pet. 4:8 NKJV)
When we have the opportunity to comfort somebody who is suffering, let's really comfort them. Don't make things worse.