More on Job: stupid words

Watch what you say to those in pain. Too many times we say awkward, even hurtful things to those suffering. I am so grateful for my two Senior Pastors I’ve had at The Chapel, Knute and Paul, who’ve pushed us to speak little when around those in pain. While in midst of suffering people don’t need answers or pithy phrases. They just need us.

My wife and I laugh because we see this every time I hurt myself. When stub my toe or hit my head on a cabinet and I’m in extreme pain I don’t want anyone around me. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to be touched. I just want to get through the pain. And that’s exactly what we do to others when we have “stupid words” for them. It’s not what they want either.

Job after losing all he had: family, home, health, was left with three friends. These fellas thought they knew the answers to Job’s pain. “Clearly Job you’ve sinned against God. That’s why you are suffering. The Lord’s judgement is upon your life because of you sin.” Most of the book of Job is the argument between the three friends and Job. From the lens of Job’s suffering their comments are unbelievably cruel.

I had never noted this result from the book. The three friends are also confronted by the Lord in chapter 42. We mostly focus at the end of the story the good result for Job, with the blessing he receives. But tucked into the last chapter the Lord says a few things to the three friends.

After the Lord had spoken these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My anger is stirred up against you and your two friends, because you have not spoken about me what is right, as my servant Job has.” Job 42:7 NET (see at

What the three said about God was not right. They had misrepresented the Lord to Job. They had sinned with their “stupid words.” Here’s the lesson for us…be careful what you say to those in pain. You may misrepresent God. You probably don’t understand God’s purpose in this instant. The Lord’s tough words to the three should be a warning to us about what say to others and about our theology. We can easily misrepresent the Lord.

What the three did do well and what we should excel at is simply the practice of being there. Presence and a good ear is what is most helpful to those hurting.


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