Proper Comfort

Job 16:2-3 I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all. Shall vain words have an end? or what emboldeneth thee that thou answerest?”

Often, words fail us when we see someone in pain, suffering, or navigating significant loss. Yet, some try and fail miserably to provide real comfort.

Such is the case with Job’s friends. Along with the others, Eliphaz tried to make sense of the catastrophe they viewed taking place in the life of a very well respected and revered man in their community.

At first, they came alongside Job and sat silent. Then, when they did speak, it was more out of accusation from false reasoning. They held to the principle that if you prosper, you are blessed of God and in His favor. If poor and living from trial to trial, you must have done something wrong or are paying for a debt of sin committed. 

The Book of Job highlights a part of God’s operation that we fail to comprehend. No one likes suffering. I dare say, no one would volunteer willingly. Yet, we see a good man, yea, a great man chosen by God to glorify Himself in a problematic way to accept or reconcile. 

At times, we see trouble in someone’s life as a result of bad choices. It bears fruit to the laws of sowing and reaping. Other times we do not possess all the facts to make the proper determination.

Yet, instant communication through news sources, the internet, and social media, we see ‘armchair commentators’ trying to explain away the chaos of this present day.

Some accuse.

Others infer.

Some will call them out with accusations that may be unfounded. 

Most often, it is a matter of perspective. How we see a thing and from where we stand has a great deal of bearing on the comments we make. 

Some allow their compassion to override reason. Most often, is it because we fail to listen genuinely. Listen to both to the one suffering and to engage God, asking for wisdom and discernment to be the best comfort, humanly speaking.

There is a reason that the Holy Spirit is known as the Comforter. He alone possesses the ability to comfort perfectly and in a timely fashion. He is on time, every time.

Why do we feel like we must express our opinion on every matter presented or paraded before us? Whether in a meme with a pointed quote or an inference that leaves no doubt about who we are commenting, we permit ourselves because it must be said. 

Most often, we say we’ve prayed about it, but we lie. Sincere prayer requires a conversation on both parts – speaking AND listening. We are either too impatient to wait for an answer or too proud to think that our way is best. 

Some have no filter whatsoever. They speak not possessing the ability nor care to check what they are saying for the facts or whether or not the words spoken will hurt the situation instead of helping. These are loose cannons that most avoid and seldom rebuke. Yet, rebuke is what they need.

Proverbs 13:1 A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.”

It is usually not the first time they have spoken out in such a manner that it will not be the last. 

To be a proper comforter, we must possess extreme listening skills. We must listen to both to the one speaking and the Holy Spirit as He leads and guides through the conversation.

Having been a biblical counselor for some time, I have learned to pray before the meeting, during the meeting, and upon its conclusion. 

I have also learned to listen more intently to God’s Word than to the cries and tears of those needing help.

Dr. Don Rase, my first pastor, coined two acronyms for the types of people with whom we may come in contact.

NEDs are Negative Energy Drains. You’ll know them by how you feel after they leave. They spew such negativity and narcissism that you are exhausted by the time they finally depart. 

PERs are Positive Energy Resources. These are the ones whose company we seek because they are that ray of sunshine on a cloudy day; that sweet taste when all else is so bitter. We run to these who lift our spirits when we feel so low. 

When trying to comfort someone, we must first engage the Comforter to find out what is best. Without Him, we can only draw from our limited experience and knowledge. He, the Holy Spirit is all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful.

It is pride that skirts past this first step, thinking we may have dealt with this issue before, or have personally given the victory, that we possess the answer. I have realized that things are not always as they seem, and people do not always disclose all the facts in a matter.

God knows everything about that person and what role He desires us to be for them. Any excellent comforter knows that we are useless without God and can do more harm than good.

Secondly, we must listen far more than we speak. A good listener will ask questions before making statements. A good listener will be praying while they are listening. A good listener is open to all possibilities, only allowing God’s wisdom and counsel to narrow their line of sight.

Lastly, our comfort must come what will draw them closer in their relationship to the Lord. Some blame God, believing the lies of the devil that God is to blame for their situation and circumstance.

Ultimately, God uses situations such as these to glorify Himself. Some are put through trials to grow their faith. Only God can reveal it. It may be that we are not privy to the “why” of their situation, yet we need to be faithful in coming alongside them. We become God’s hands and arms to show physical comfort when needed. 

God must be the One we point to and lift before the ones we are trying to comfort. When we are comforted, then we can use our experience to help others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

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