Susan Murray 

Today's Scripture: “And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” Job 2:13, ESV 

Theme: Be the kind of friend who silently comforts. Don’t subsequently preach or give platitudes or reasons. 


I think we can all agree that suffering comes to each of us in different forms and to different degrees. The one thing all suffering has in common is loss. It could be anything big or small that our heart's affections are set on. The greater the affection, the bigger the loss, the more our world shakes, taking with it our sense of security and safety. We feel life will never be the same again. We feel the loss in our bodies and grief weighs heavy.  


We often want to escape grief's unbearably sharp pains. At first, we work hard to avoid loss and grief by doing “things” right. Maybe we try our best to obey God, just like Job. Yet because we live in this fallen world, loss cannot be avoided. We are not in control.  

There are many means of escaping grief, such as alcohol, busyness, food, anger, shopping, demandingness, joking, or just shutting down. The temptation is to kill desire along with hope. I realized my own heart’s posture; if I don’t care, then I won’t hurt. These tactics are an effort to gain a sense of control, but they block what every heart really desires and desperately needs--being in a community, giving and receiving love. This community is where we can share our grief and receive comfort, which has its roots in hope. Yet, this too risks further hurt and grief on top of grief.  


Grief is meant to be a burden we share. Yet it is seen as a negative emotion which we want to resolve quickly. Not only do we try to escape our own grief, but also the grief of others, especially if prolonged. We may initially give our condolences, bring a meal and say a prayer, but then it’s “time to move on.” When relief delays, we look for an explanation, thinking that if we can assign a reason or even blame, then understanding will come and all will finally be “okay.” Again, we want control, and it eludes us. Our discomfort with grief and suffering can make us miserable comforters. We become inclined to offer trite sayings or just avoid being present.  

We may say things like: “I know how you feel;” “Well, at least you have your other children;” “Remember Romans 8:28; ‘’All things work together for good” (Truth twisted, misapplied at the wrong time, just like Job’s friends). We may ask, “What did you do to cause this?” Or “If you hadn’t _____, this would not be happening.” “Don't you think you should be over this by now?” “It’s all going to go away and be better soon.”  

We are miserable comforters when we have fled our own grief, refusing its presents. If I want to comfort others, then I must admit my own loss, feel my own grief, and say my feelings out loud. The Bible calls it lament. It’s the opposite of Job's wife, who told him to curse God and die. In other words, she advised him to forget God; that God was of no use. Rather, lament is turning toward God and being honest about how you feel. This is what Job did. He complained to God and trusted in God. 


“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 NIV). It’s only by allowing ourselves to feel grief that true comfort will come.  

Jesus came healing and caring for those who were suffering. When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, He came and, although He knew He was going to resurrect Lazarus, He still wept. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the evening before His crucifixion, Jesus said to His disciples; “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:38 NIV). Jesus didn’t ask for their words, but just their presence. Yet they fell asleep. Jesus, knowing their weakness, gave them grace, saying: “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40 NIV). 

Jesus knows what it means to suffer and grieve. He had no home of his own. He was betrayed by one of His disciples. He was misunderstood, criticized, despised, and rejected. On the cross, He cried out quoting Psalms 22:1; “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He was forsaken so we could be redeemed. He was cast out so we could be brought in. He died so we could live.  

His resurrection gives us a new hope that is grounded not in this present world of suffering. It is the hope of eternity in God’s presence and love, so that we get a taste of comfort now, but only if we grieve and do not try to escape. God’s promise is that He will wipe away every tear. Heaven is not a consolation prize but a complete undoing of all loss as though it never happened. (Acknowledgements: Dan Allender and Dr Tim Keller) 

Make It Personal: Do you grieve well, or do you hide from it? Where are you hiding? Do you find yourself at a loss for words when others suffer? I encourage you to grab your Bible and read a Psalm of lament. These include Chapters 6,10, 38, 42, 43, 51, and130. Healing requires grief and grief can only heal if we allow Gospel hope to stir our hearts. Sit with those who are hurting and share a tear and a hug. Don’t give answers... because you do not have them. Just being present gives hope. 

Pray: Lord, You made everything perfect in creation, but man’s sin brought pain, suffering, grief, and sorrow. Instead of turning Your back on us as we deserved, You sent Jesus. He lived the perfect life we can’t, and then You turned your back on Him so we can turn toward You (like Job) and receive Your comfort and healing. I praise You for Your goodness, grace, love, and faithfulness. I ask that You help us, as we grieve in this world, to remember with hope the promise of a future with You forever. Amen. 

Read: Psalms 119:76; John 16:22; John 14:1-3; Revelations 21:1-4; Isaiah 53:3 

Weekly Memory Verse:  

“I had only heard about you before,

    but now I have seen you with my own eyes. 

I take back everything I said,

    and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:5-6, NLT