Spiritual Director · August 31, 2017

Devote #95

Having been a pastor for over 30 years has given me many experiences, some good, some not so good. There have been times of great celebration: hearts united in marriage… the birth of a child… the dedication of a new building. There have also been times of great sorrow: the death of a child… the loss of a job… the burning of a home.

It’s at those times, most often, people want answers.

Maybe you yourself remember the time when your friend was going through some rough times and they came to you for help, but you weren’t sure what to say that would help?

It’s then we pull out a verse like Romans 8:28,

“We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves Him.”

We believe that verse will help them feel better, that God is going to take their horrific situation and turn it around for His good because they love Him.

We do that because we can’t begin to fathom not having any words to say to our friend when they’re hurting and afraid. Or we try to explain why their situation is happening or give them words to try to comfort them. Job’s friends did the very same thing.

Most of the book of Job is his friends telling him why all of his children have died… why all of his livestock is gone… and why he has sores all over his body. If I were to break it down in the simplest form they told Job he’s only getting what he deserved because he sinned. Some of the things his friends say to Job, probably make sense to us and are probably things we ourselves have thought and maybe even said. However, none of the reasons they gave Job were what caused his loss. They thought they were comforting Job when in actuality they were only causing more discomfort.

That’s why Job said,

“I have often heard this, and it offers no comfort. So why don’t you keep quiet? What’s bothering you? If I were in your place, it would be easy to criticize or to give advice. But I would offer hope and comfort instead.” —Job 16:2-5

Here’s my word of encouragement for you today

There are times God will use us to give comfort with a scripture verse when our friend is hurting, but there will be other times when we really have no idea what to say or how to help. Instead of just spouting out the first thing that comes to our mind, no matter how religious it sound, try this first: listen… listen… and then listen some more, instead of trying to solve all their problems.

Help me be the kind of friend my friend really needs. They don’t always need an answer to life’s frustrations, but just a listening ear. Help me, help them. I ask this in the precious name of Jesus, my Savior, Amen.

—Rev. Dr. MM Marxhausenell  

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Mark was Spiritual Director for VdC from 2016 to 2019. He's written many of the devotions, especially the Devote and Affirm series, found on this website.