I’m reading the book of Job. I’m at the part where his windbag friends take turns giving lengthy speeches. Poor Job is heartbroken over the deaths of his children and the loss of his business. Sick, in pain and depressed, Job becomes upset with God. He’s tried to figure out why everything’s been taken away from him. But he can’t.
His self-righteous friends claim to have all the answers. One by one they disappoint Job. He needs a shoulder to cry on, friends to listen as he pours out anguish from his soul. His friends don’t want to listen, they want to talk. They want to have the last word on why Job’s in the miserable condition he’s in.
Job’s comforters increased his sadness. Many times I’ve been too quick to figure out the “problem” and not quick enough to realize that a hurting friend needs me to listen, listen to why they feel abandoned by God. And if they slander God while I’m listening, does He really need me to protect His reputation? No. I can listen to a suffererer’s rants against God without interrupting to speak on God’s behalf.
A soul in pain expresses itself in laments. Lament often comes before healing or acceptance. I first realized this a few years ago when a friend expressed her disappointment in God to me. She used strong language, words that some might say are offensive to God. She was speaking to me but it was if I was eavesdropping while she gave God a piece of her mind.
My friend was honest about how she felt. It took many months but she eventually worked things out with God. Reading Job’s story again reminded me that the best gift I can give a friend in pain is a closed mouth and an open ear.