Well, hey! Fancy meeting you here. Would you mind if I sat and talked with you for a little while? It'll probably be me doing most of the talking....is that ok? Really? Ok, awesome!
So, I am reading through the book of Job, a really good read, and I suggest you pick it up if you get a chance. However, I would caution you, it is probably better if you are in a secure place spiritually, at the very least not in the pits of despair. I once tried to read Job while I was really upset....not good.
Anyway, so I just read chapters 8 and 9, in which Job's friend, Bildad, tells Job that if all of this stuff is happening to him, there must have been a reason-God rewards those who do good and punishes those who do evil. He encourages Job to implore God to show His compassion, for surely Job is upright and pure. He goes on to say that when we are in the will of God those who oppose us will be brought down and shamed, and their abode will no more be there.
This sounds familiar, right? It definitely does for me. Often when my friends are going through a hard time, I offer words of comfort (like those found in Romans 8:28). And while my speech may not sound exactly like Bildad's, there are definite similarities. He tells Job that God surely has his best interest in mind and so Job can take comfort in this thought; if Job turn completely to God's will, He will crush Job's enemies and remove the problems in his life. I can't tell you how many times I have told my friends that there has to be a reason for the trials they are enduring-not necessarily that they have somehow deserved them, but rather that God is seeking to teach them something through it. And that surely, God will work out for the best in the situation.
So everything's great now, right? We have assurance that God is working in our best interests. And yet, Job is not satisfied. He tells Bildad that there is no way to show God that he is pure and upright. No matter what he does, Job will always be filthy in God's sight. Job asks rhetorically, "Who can say to Him, 'What are You doing?'" in verse 12 of chapter 9. We as humans have no basis to judge God or to demand that He explain Himself to us. Job, seemingly in despair, says that if God removed His rod and the dread/terrifying aspect, then he would be able to speak to Him.
How do you respond to something like that? How do you reassure a friend, who is clearly hurting and cannot find hope? I don't know. I know-I bet some of you were expecting some profound answer, but I have none. Other than, just be there for that person. Listen to them. That is perhaps the most important thing you can do, allow them to speak and to get out their feelings and frustrations. As I said in an earlier post, there aren't enough people willing to listen. Therefore, take the time to just sit and be there for a friend! Sometimes, they don't need a profound answer; they just need to know that someone cares for them and is willing to be there with them.
If anyone has any suggestions/comments, they are welcome.