I was at men’s group this last week, and we were studying Job Chapter 8. A lot about what we talked about the rest of the time after talking about how Job’s friends were casting reasonable advice (though God did not agree) of the time, was about how we act in times of crisis for people.

A lot of men talked about how Job’s friend was simply just trying to be there. That it is natural as men to want to be “fixers” but that we should try not to do this when we are sitting with someone who is in pain, agony, or despair. Sometimes, we need to just sit and spend time with them. To the credit of Job’s friends, it says that they spent over a week with him before any documented conversations that would later get them in trouble with the Lord (in chapter 42 – I had to skip ahead). Many people wondered why it was so bad that the friends did this – I mean, they were just trying to be nice and provide “advice” – that Job must have done something wrong – he did of course make offerings for his kids, which could have been a form of preemptive recognition that they were living in sin – they of course lost their lives as well, when Satan had his way with them, in tormenting Job.

I mean, it’s true though, when you’re going through hardship, the last thing you want to hear is what you could have done better, or you shouldn’t do something that has led you to where you are. Those things are both true, but it doesn’t make you feel any better, and worse, as some of the men pointed out in the group, can actually lead people away from salvation, as they feel that they have to “tidy themselves up” before they can enter into God’s presence and forgiveness. That’s a battle that I think all Christians wrestle with, and one I’m fondly familiar with.

One of my great heroes of this world (for his bravery and undying focus), I found out awhile ago that he wasn’t Christian – and only because he didn’t feel that he belonged in heaven – that hell would likely be the place for him. I was very sad to read this, but as a prominent figure in the media and the world, I wasn’t too surprised that he’d be feeling this grief; I’d share with him what I’m reminded every time that I go to scripture that I too, do not deserve it. But that salvation is a gift. Something that was given to me on the cross, and the wages of my sin were taken from me – not because I deserve it, but because it was given freely to me, so that God could spend eternity with me. I am also reminded that I’m never going to be perfect in this world, and I will continue to fail everyday. But being a believer means that I recognize that, repent of my sin, and move forward in relationship with God, bearing the fruit of salvation.

Coming back to Job’s situation, I was thinking through the responses that I heard, and what we’re supposed to do in times of grief when people are going through hard times – the only image I could conjure up, was that while they are walking away from God, we must be physically planted in front of them, but in such a way that they don’t see us – but that we are a mirror and a reflection of what is behind, beside and in front of them – Jesus. (John 3:30, Galations 2:20, Matthew 5:16). That’s all I could think about when trying to figure out what a person should do when faced with someone else’s grief – I think the close second is to immediately follow up with humble appreciation that we are not going through the same, and what we can do to help them through this, building intentional, meaningful and present relationship with them, and following Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those that mourn.

My hope is that I’ll be more like that in my relationships in my life. Do you?

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