““Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and a man full of talk be judged right? Should your babble silence men, and when you mock, shall no one shame you?” Job 11:2-3
The thought of feeding the homeless, helping the helpless, comforting the suffering, and fixing the broken are always highly appealing to those with religious sentiments. It is not uncommon to give up a Saturday around Christmas to serve at a soup kitchen, or to toss a few coins into the hands of the beggar in a downtown alleyway. We all love to be the shoulder for others to cry on and the voice of wisdom in a misguided friends life. These things are all good things and the desire to help those who are hurting is evidence of God’s presence in our lives. But for many people, charity has a short life when its truly played out with those who are in need of it. We all want to feed hungry people, but are shocked that they would steal bread or ask for more than what we give them. We love to comfort those who are hurting, but when out of their hurt they show anger, pain, and doubt, we slink back in confusion. We desire to help those in need, but are surprised that they act needy. Job’s friends had the same problems. When they first arrived, they sat in silence with their suffering friend for seven days. There is no doubt they cared about Job and wanted genuinely to help him. But when Job finally opens his mouth and acts like a man who lost everything without cause and a man in sever physical pain, there compassion quickly dries up and turns to frustration that Job won’t just humbly accept their advice and be healed instantly. It is frightening how quickly I lose patience with hurting people because they won’t let me be the hero I thought I would be in their lives. Broken people act broken, suffering people act hurt, and needy people act needy. If our compassion for those in need is not coupled with patience through the long process of recovery, then we fall into the same sin of Job’s friends and do not reflect God’s patience for us. If God treated us the way we treat others in need, we would be hopeless.
Lord Jesus, please give us both compassion and patience to walk with others through their hurts. Let us not give up on loving others!