Below is another journal entry from the summer, in the journey of suffering that was recorded on August 4, 2019.
Job, how to comfort those in grief.
It’s difficult to know how to respond to people suffering grief. Those brave enough to speak often attempt to rationalize another’s grief with ill-timed theological truths. Those who feel inadequate or awkward about reaching out to grieving people sometimes avoid them altogether.
Right now, I am on the receiving end. Not a time to teach others how to comfort those who are mourning, but I am struck by these verses that close out chapter two of Job…
“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.”
Job’s friends are well known for misinterpreting Job’s suffering. But they aren’t often recognized for the moments when they responded to Job’s anguish with wisdom. When Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar first heard of the tragedy, they immediately came to comfort Job.
After the summer events, this is what we need right now, not answers, not plans to remove the trial, we need people who are willing to weep with us.
Often we try to diminish grief with clichés that seem helpful and fill the awkward silence, like “God is in control.” Job’s friends realized that such spoken attempts—even spoken truths—would only interrupt and add to the grieving that was necessary and appropriate. Instead, they shared his grief, offered their presence, and didn’t speak a word.
Unfortunate that the chapters that follow show the friends taking a different course with how they “comfort” the grieving Job.
My heart is brittle right now. Another day of numbness. Another day when simple decisions are painful to make. My head feels like it is under the pressure of a vise grip. All of this is compounded by the fact that there seems to be no one to share this with. I cannot fully imagine what Job felt. I cannot imagine the heaviness of Jesus in the height of his suffering for me on the cross!!
Lord, will you surround us with people who are willing to sit and cry with us?