Read Job 16:1-5
Then Job defended himself:
“I’ve had all I can take of your talk.
What a bunch of miserable comforters!
Is there no end to your windbag speeches?
What’s your problem that you go on and on like this?
If you were in my shoes,
I could talk just like you.
I could put together a terrific harangue
and really let you have it.
But I’d never do that. I’d console and comfort,
make things better,not worse! (THE MESSAGE)
C. S. Lewis once wrote a book called The Problem of Pain. He explored the issue of suffering from a philosophical and academic perspective. It helped many. Years later,his wife,Joy Davidman,died. He wrote another book,A Grief Observed. It was a very different book. It was written out of his own personal pain. Some even thought he had lost his faith as they read the book.
He had done no such thing. He had simply approached the subject from a different perspective. Not as a scholar objectively examining a subject,but as one who was experiencing the very thing under discussion. And we too can find ourselves in similar situations. The anti-abortion activist whose daughter seeks an abortion. An opponent of gay sexuality who discovers a child is gay. A passionate denouncer of euthanasia confronted with the debility of an elderly spouse.
It is not as if such experiences necessarily change our essential views. But we see the situation somewhat differently. Perhaps this is what Job is getting at in our passage today. His comforters had all the theory down pat. But Job was the one undergoing the suffering. He complains that his companions are too detached from his experience and suggests that if he were in their shoes he would speak differently.
May our hopefully ‘correct’ ideas on pain and suffering be communicated in such a way that they comfort rather than condemn sufferers. May our own experience of pain and suffering shape the way we approach the pain and suffering of others.