“I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters you are! Won’t you ever stop blowing hot air? What makes you keep on talking?
Job 16:2-3 NLT
I just love the book of Job.
Job, more than many other servants of God, Job has seen clearly that:
for our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12:29 ESV
For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
Hebrews 12:6 NLT
We are each worthy of punishment. We have all fallen short of God’s glorious perfection. And discipline, and even suffering and persecution in this life, are always good for us — they produce in us a harvest of right living, of character built through endurance. They are the narrow path by which we share in His holiness.
When we have our eyes set upon eternity, momentary sufferings are endured through hope in the Lord and not in ourselves. We find our comfort in the arms of the Lord, because He is in the midst of the furnace with us. He may not remove the bitter cup of suffering from our hands, but He will not forsake us. Think back to Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace:
Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
Daniel 3:14-18 NLT
Or remember Joseph put in the pit by his brothers, or in the jail by false accusations. Servant of God, remember this when suffering comes and those around you prove to be miserable comforters:
Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the Lord , “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord ’s presence.
Job 1:8-12 NLT
But remember even moreso, when you religious hypocrites (like Job’s “friends”) seek to attack another with the Word of God, judge another, make assumptions about why another is suffering harm.
Would you wicked people go to a man who has just lost a child and say, “It is your sin that has found you out and this is why your child has died.”
Would you wicked people see your enemy suffer harm and rejoice in it? Have you forgotten that a forgiven man is a forgiving man and is one who loves his neighbors and blesses those who consider themselves his enemies.
Would you wicked people judge a person by his outside circumstances and appearance alone? Have you forgotten the empty tomb of death and lies and wickedness and jealousy and pride and sinfulness that lies at the core of you that can only be covered up by the blood of Jesus Christ shed for you on a cross?
Yes, we may know many who have been miserable comforters to us in our times of suffering — but dwelling on that does little but sow seeds of bitterness towards an outward target with a speck in their eye. No, instead of proudly placing ourselves in the seat of “persecuted” and staying there — maybe se need to be reminded of how many times we have been miserable comforters to others, how often we have failed to forgive, how often we have lifted up accusations against others in our minds and in our hearts.
Lord, forgive us. We have many times been miserable comforters to our brothers, sisters, and neighbors. Help us to love, to comfort, to make peace — and to endure. Amen.