One of my favorite series from Kristi’s blog was her study “How Could a Good God…” It was hard to pick a favorite from her posts on Job and Ecclesiastes. I finally decided on “Sitting in the Dust Together” because this is truly the type of friend Kristi is, one who will sit in the dust with you!
I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life when my dear friends are experiencing such deep and gripping agony that I just have no idea what to do. I want to offer words of comfort… I want to help… and then later on I feel like a fool for saying what probably came across as trite rather than comforting.
We have good friends who lost a child several years ago. A few months later I was talking with her about their experience; she told me that some of the most painful things to deal with were the well-intentioned words from others. Words that were meant to heal left deeper wounds in their path, because those who were trying to comfort could not fathom the depth of their pain.
I wince and wonder if some of those unintentionally cutting words came from me.
For this reason, Job 2:11-13 is so profound to me.
When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite,
heard about all the troubles that had come upon him,
they set out from their homes and met together by agreement
to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.
When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him;
they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.
Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights.
No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
Now, Job’s friends end up not being terribly helpful or encouraging… but they started out great. They saw the depth of his suffering and sat on the ground in silence for seven days and nights.
When we see those we love experiencing unimaginable pain and despair, we would be wise to follow the example of these three men. We need to keep our “helpful” words to ourselves. Weep with them. Mourn with them. Sit on the ground in silence with them.
Because sometimes no words can help.
Have you been the bearer of too-quickly-spoken words? Have you been hurt by the “comfort” offered by others in times of loss? What would it look like to sit in the dust with someone you love?