Job 10-13: False Comfort for Fierce Calamity

Job 11:13-20 says this:

[13] “If you prepare your heart,
you will stretch out your hands toward him.
[14] If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,
and let not injustice dwell in your tents.
[15] Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish;
you will be secure and will not fear.
[16] You will forget your misery;
you will remember it as waters that have passed away.
[17] And your life will be brighter than the noonday;
its darkness will be like the morning.
[18] And you will feel secure, because there is hope;
you will look around and take your rest in security.
[19] You will lie down, and none will make you afraid;
many will court your favor.
[20] But the eyes of the wicked will fail;
all way of escape will be lost to them,
and their hope is to breathe their last.”
(Job 11:13-20 ESV)

These are seemingly sweet words from Job’s friend, Zophar. But there is a problem. Job’s friends have a poor understanding of God’s judgement and are thus chastising Job while they should be offering real comfort and encouragement. They are convinced that God is punishing Job for his sins, and that as long as Job maintains his innocence he will continue to be burdened by the suffering he has endured. Job 11:13-20 is what Zophar expects to happen when Job finally repents. But God was not punishing Job for sin. Punishment for sin comes in eternity, which is why good people may suffer now, while evil men prosper.

We must not follow the example of Job’s friends. They were not speaking with wisdom from God even though their words seem wise. Most of us don’t do this. We don’t associate suffering with past or present sin. We just don’t think this way in our culture, and therefore the words of Job’s friends can look pretty ridiculous to us. But we must do more than avoid this sort of condemnation. We must do the opposite. we must truly mourn with those who mourn. This is the way to offer true comfort in the midst of calamity.

I am no good at this. I am often too self-focused to truly take up the cause of the suffering and sympathize with them deeply. I will say, “I’m sorry” or “I’ll pray for you”. I may even pray over them, but rarely do I feel the weight of their burden. I am truly ashamed of this. My prayer is that God would soften me to feel the weight that others carry so that I might be a true blessing to them in the midst of their trials, that I might be a means by which God eases people’s suffering and returns the light to their eyes and joy to their faces.

This is what Christ does for us and I so want to be like Him in this way.

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