Miserable Comforters February 26—March 1

Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu initially did not speak a word to Job. His suffering was too great. They remained silent for a week. But once they started speaking, telling Job what they really thought, Job probably wished they had remained silent. From their speeches, we see that for them the reason for suffering is very simple. You reap what you sow. You get out of life what you put into it. You are responsible for your actions and suffering is a consequence of your actions. The implication is that Job has sinned. This principle is partly right, but also partly wrong. Not all suffering is because of sin. Elihu touched on this when he told Job that God always has a purpose in our suffering. Remember, it could be for our good, others gain, and for His glory. 


Day 1       Job 4:1-9; 8:1-7

Reflect: What explanations did Eliphaz and Bildad present to Job about his situation? What did they say about God? How are these words true and untrue at the same time?

Apply:   When have you said or believed words like these? Why is a gospel centered on our works so appealing? Why are Job’s friends such miserable comforters? 

Pray:     Father, I confess that I can be quick to accuse others of wrong-doing, assuming that You behave in ways I understand and approve. Remind me that I don’t have to defend You. My role is to grow in grace and knowledge of You.  


Day 2       Job 11:1-20

Reflect: What truths are spoken by Zophar in these words? What do they say about God? How is verse 6 a precursor of grace, even if Zophar didn’t understand it that way? 

Apply:   How do you see Zophar’s words as self-righteous and cruel? As true? Do his words speak to any situation in your own life? Has someone ever said things like these to you?

Pray:     God, forgive me for my bitter complaints, prideful thoughts, and criticism of others. Open my spiritual eyes of understanding so that I may know You more and love You better.


Day 3      Job 32:1-5; 33:1–30

Reflect: How does Elihu approach Job differently than Job’s other friends? What did he accuse Job of doing? According to Elihu, why might God allow suffering?  

Apply:    How does Elihu’s discourse underscore the importance of listening for God’s truth in your life? How can you better speak with others in times of suffering and pain?

Pray:      Lord, teach us to deal with the real issues of a situation rather than looking at it from a human perspective. When I get stuck on a human response to problems, remind me of Your greatness. Help me listen, to understand and comfort those who are suffering.


Day 4      Galatians 6:1-10

Reflect: What is Paul’s main point? How does his instruction to restore the person-caught-in sin challenge our usual approach to sin in the Christian community? 

Apply:   How does the principle of sowing and reaping influence your decisions and actions as a Christian? What does it mean to bear one another’s burdens? Have you done so? 

Pray:     May I be a blessing to others, as I have been blessed by others. Give me wisdom and strength to encourage others when they fall. May I live in a manner that honors You.


Day 5      John 9:1-6 

Reflect: How does this text relate to the story of Job? How does Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question challenge common assumptions about the causes of suffering? 

Apply:   When have you seen God’s power displayed through someone’s pain or suffering? How have others seen God’s power and work displayed in your life?

Pray:     Jesus, may the light of Your love and grace shine in and through me. Use me to reflect You, the true Light, that overcomes the darkness of the world.


Put It Into Practice!

Week 3   Miserable Comforters

Pray for someone who is suffering, and spend some time in focused meditation and consideration of them. Ask the Holy Spirit how you can show love for them.