The modern saying, “Who needs enemies when I’ve got you for friends?” could well have been used by Job to refer to his friends. “Miserable comforters” — this is what Job called his three friends who had come to comfort him. Job’s friends had come professedly to comfort him, and no doubt were sincere in their intentions. But Job finds no help at all in the speeches of the “comforters” (verses 2-6). Instead of yielding comfort, all that they said served only to irritate, and to deepen his distress.
Are we better comforters than Job’s friends? What should we do when someone we care about has just suffered a tragedy? Crises in life happen to us all. Surely we can think of someone who is currently having a physical/health problems, another has psychological problems and is depressed, another does not have steady employment, another is stressed out carrying for a sick child/parent, another has marriage problems, and another has wayward children. How are we going to help these hurting friends? Or even this, how can we avoid hurting them more?
What do we say to someone whose heart is grieving and broken? How can we in any way be of help to them when they need us the most? Here are 4 easy steps:
(Please read Job 2:11-13)
- BE THERE.
Just being there is comforting to a friend. It shows you care about him. Job’s friends came as soon as they heard about his tragic experience. They dropped all of their own affairs and came rushing to be by his side. They stayed with him for seven whole days without saying a word. Just being there is a source of comfort. “I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25:36).
- BE QUIET.
Some said: “I don’t know what to say by way of comforting them.” Job’s friends didn’t utter a single word for seven days. Sometimes that is the very best thing to do: Be Quiet. Many times, especially when comforting those who are heavy hearted, it is best to simply be quiet. It is better to be quiet than to say the wrong thing. Imagine going to a friend’s father funeral and says: “Well, we all have to go some time.” That’s not very comforting. “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:18).
- BE SYMPATHETIC.
When friends are emotionally distraught, it is not a time to lecture them: “See, I told you not to go there.” Being sympathetic means being understanding, non-judgmental, and helpful regarding real needs. Job’s friends didn’t tell him to “cheer up,” or “look on the bright side,” or even assure him that “God works all things for good.” Instead they simply came to “mourn with him” (Job 2:11). Be sympathetic and caring: “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him” (Luke 10:33).
- BE EDIFYING.
Speak words of encouragement. When someone we care about is heavy hearted, our carefully chosen words need to be positive in nature. We should comfort them with kind words or memories about their loved ones. We could also comfort them from the Scriptures. If it is a death in the family, we could remind them of the promise of God that we will be reunited with loved ones in glory. “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the sou, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).
The best way to comfort is just be there with the grieving one. Brethren, visit the sick in hospital and go to a wake. Don’t give excuse that you don’t know the family or what to say to this family member when the church member is not around at the bedside; just be there. The sight that church members are concerned about the family is comforting to them. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
Psa 119:97 Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.