I recently caught up with a friend who has been going through severe and mysterious health ailments. Tentatively she shared a detail, then another. I don’t have the full picture of what she’s been through these past months, but I recognized a holy privilege to be invited into any space of her journey. (Oh, the awe of holy ground. I do not want to mar it with an impulsive or incomplete response!) As I listened to her, I heard the natural bubble of her voice. She has always been joyful. And even in this, she waits with joy and patience and confidence.
2 “I have heard many things like these;
you are miserable comforters, all of you!
3 Will your long-winded speeches never end?
What ails you that you keep on arguing?
4 I also could speak like you,
if you were in my place;
I could make fine speeches against you
and shake my head at you.
5 But my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief.” (Job 16:2-5, NIV, emphasis added)
I wonder if it is the deep lows in life that allow one to speak comfort to another. Empathy. Compassion. Sincerity.
I don’t know all that she’s experienced in this trial, but I know she still walks by faith on this dark path. She looks at me and shines her light. She is in the deep lows, and yet when our conversation was over, I felt hope, comfort, and relief because of her joy and confidence.
As I read through Job’s story, I think on his friends and their responses. They speak in judgment. They speak judgment of God. But God wasn’t penalizing or punishing Job–God called Job faithful. Maybe someone carries a heavy burden because of mistakes they’ve made, or from actions made by others. And maybe someone was appointed by God to carry a heavy burden, because God knew he could.
Lord, I hope I always remember the person’s heart who walks through heartache and trial. I pray that you would give me guidance how to comfort, encourage, or even to be still as I bear witness the journey. I pray that in my own walk, that you would send me support to encourage me for burdens I might carry. I give thanks for my friend, Lord, and your presence with us.