Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (Romans 12:15)

Some time ago, I gave advice to a friend who was going through a crisis. My intention was to help, but it turned out wrong. Soon afterward, I read the book of Job and learned a lesson from his friends, who came to comfort him after he lost his children, his wealth, and his health.

Three of Job's friends--Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar--came to his side and found him in great pain. They wept, and for seven days, they sat with him in silence. But their good intentions soon turned into fruitless lectures and heated debates on why he was suffering. They reasoned that Job had sin in his life, and God was punishing him. But God had a different idea and called him a righteous man. (Job 1:8)

Job's friends started out well by showing up to comfort him, but when the conversation began, things went downhill. Their unfounded accusations send a message: we must be careful what we assume to be true in someone's life. Job's story shows us that suffering isn't always a result of someone's sin. The human instinct is to ask why, but God's ways are unlike ours, and we don't have all the answers.

Silence and a listening ear are often the best responses to someone's suffering. Our job is not to overanalyze the problem or to blame the victim. We first need to be a friend in Christ. Our suffering friends need to know we care.

Father, help us to be sensitive to the needs of those who suffer. Give us the wisdom to know when to speak and when to be silent. In Jesus' name. Amen.


Susan Ferguson is a freelance writer who lives in Madison, Mississippi with her husband. She is an accountant by profession and works during the day and writes at night. She is a member of Faithwriters and participates in their daily devotional. She likes to read, travel, and cook for family and friends.