Summary: What to do and what not to do when comforting the wounded
Last week we had our 22nd Church Anniversary celebration, and celebrations are an important part of life. But celebrations rarely make up the majority of our lives. Most of our lives are made of up work, sprinkled with some successes and some defeats. The goal is to focus on the destination and not the defeats.
This morning, we return to our study in the book of Job. From this book, I hope we can learn to grow in our faith, maturity, skills and stamina to deal with the successes and defeats in life.
The large part of Job’s life was a success story. He was a man of character, and his character paid off. God blessed him with children and wealth. And Job was not prideful, but he revered God and shunned evil.
If you’re experiencing success currently, you will do well to revere God and to shun evil. Many people do not know how to handle success, and their success does not last. Why do successful people end up ruining their lives with drug, adultery and other destructive behaviors? Because pride often follows success.
The Apostle Paul instructs us from 1 Corinthians 10:12, "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!" And Proverbs 16:18 tells us, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." In other words, if you want to maintain success as long as possible, live in humility and wisdom by revering God and shunning evil.
If you are experiencing defeat currently, you will be encouraged by Job’s perseverance of integrity in the midst of great loss and suffering. At this point of our study, Job is no longer the blessed, poised and wealthy man. He has lost all his children, wealth and health. His wife is waiting for him to die. And although his friends came to comfort Job, they became speechless at the sight of Job’s devastation.
In our last study, Job finally breaks the silence and begins to vent. He spews out self-pity and helplessness, wishing he were dead. The loss and the pain are only matched by the humiliation of going from being known as "the greatest man among all the people of the East" to being unrecognizable by his friends.
Many times, we come across acquaintances and friends who are hurting and humiliated, but we don’t know how to help. Someone loses a loved one, and her joyful disposition has turned into depression. Another had investments at $200 per share that has dropped to $2 per share, and he doesn’t know if he has enough to retire on anymore.
Who will bring comfort to them? Who will comfort those whose pride is wounded, those who are lonely, those who have lost loved ones or those who are facing defeat in their marriage, their work or their personal lives? Christians ought to be people who bring comfort to others. After all, we’ve received great comfort from God.
We continue with chapters 4 and 5, when one of Job’s friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, responds to Job’s venting. Let me read the two chapters for us.
Twelve years ago, I read a book titled, "You and Your Network" by Fred Smith, and there I learned to secure mentors for different areas of my life. My first mentor was a pastor, who welcomed me into his life 24 hours a day. I remember him saying, "Dana, you will learn a great deal from me. Sometimes you will learn what to do, and other times you will learn what not to do. Even my mistakes are lessons for you to take home."
This morning, Eliphaz makes four mistakes in his response to Job. In Job 2:11 we read, "When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon [Job], they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him."
Eliphaz’s original goal was to comfort Job, but his words in chapters 4 and 5 betray his intention. Even so, Eliphaz’s mistakes are lessons we can take home. Let’s look together at how to provide true first aid to the wounded by avoiding Eliphaz’ mistakes.
First, we need to bring comfort and not condemnation. Job 4:1-6
To comfort is to strengthen and to build up. To condemn is to criticize, to judge and to tear down.
Eliphaz begins by telling Job to take his own medicine. After all, Job had instructed many with his wisdom and godliness. Could Job not find help for his situation from his own instruction and relationship with God?
Let me tell you, reading Eliphaz’s words make me want to stay in my seat and keep my mouth shut. As a Bible teacher, I teach what the Bible says are answers to life’s problems. But having the answers is not the same as living the answers.