How to help the hurting: Part 2 - Hope 103.2

How to help the hurting: Part 2

Morning Devotions is for those curious about the Christian faith and who want to explore Christian issues that relate to their daily life.

By Chris WittsTuesday 17 Sep 2013Morning Devotions with Chris WittsLifeReading Time: 0 minutes


Job’s friends have been unfairly castigated as lacking compassion. But to be fair,let’s remember these  three men,busy professional leaders in their own societies,set aside their many duties and travelled over great distances at their own expense,in order to be with their friend in his distress. The point is this ..If we want to help the hurting,we must let them express their pain without feeling threatened. Perhaps mistaking his friend’s caring silence for genuine empathy and understanding sensitivity,Job voiced his desperate feeling  recorded in Job 3.

The intensity of his angry complaint shocked and offended his friends. They saw his outburst and his whole situation as a threat to their personal faith,and thus,they became overly defensive. When Job greatly needed the compassion of a loving heart,the friends developed within themselves a tremendous need to “straighten him out”,to “solve his problem” with rigid control,and above all,to silence the offending heretic. They lost their objectivity,and judged him harshly. Should we ask others to share deep and painful feelings only to tell them they should not feel that way? All this does it add to the element of guilt to their pain.

If we want to help the hurting,we must listen to what they say rather than focus on how they say it. People in real distress will not likely be cool,calm and collected. Job himself admitted his words were “rash,but with due cause” (Job 6:2-7). We should try to fix the problem,not the blame. This principle is illustrated in Numbers 11:11-15 where Moses,apparently on the verge of a complete mental breakdown from the inordinate pressure of his leadership role,issued a veritable tirade against the Lord. Interestingly,the Lord neither rebuked nor condemned,but instead offered real help for Moses’ voiced needs by providing subordinate leaders and delicious quail as food for the murmuring people (Num. 11:16-32).

If we want to help the hurting,we must be willing to say,”I don’t know.” These three little words are simple enough,yet Job’s friends were totally incapable of saying them. An authentic helper must be willing to admit his own inadequacy. Where we do not know,we must not say. It is far better to be supportive,listen and seek to comprehend.

Finally,if we want to help the hurting,we must recognize that genuine healing comes from within and from above. Our most skilled and informed efforts can  enhance and promote the recovery process. In Job’s case,this process developed despite the friends’ insensitivity and falsehoods. In fact the friends’ harsh ineptitude forces the tortured Job increasingly to pour out his heart in prayer and to seek help  from the Lord. When the Lord ultimately restored Job. He rebuked the friends for misrepresenting Him,but mercifully accepted their repentance and Job’s intercession for them (Job 42:7-9).

The Bible does not say what happened afterward to Job’s friends. Because they genuinely cared,we can only  hope they later reflected happily on their friend’s recovery,their own inner needs,and the love and tender mercy of God.