You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. Job 11:18 NIV
Today's verse cites one of Job's friends, Zophar. Job’s friends start as true friends; they tear their clothing, sprinkle ashes on their heads, and sit with him for seven days. Then, no longer capable of keeping quiet, they concluded that it must be Job's fault. Job must be to blame because there is no way God would let these bad things happen otherwise.
Zophar contends that Job is guilty and deserves punishment; if Job would only change his ways, things would improve. Conceptually, Zophar understood that there is comfort, hope, and security in God. His problem was in doubting Job's righteousness. Rather than providing empathy and support, he looked to place blame.
It is easy to be the armchair quarterback looking at Zophar's actions. Turning the focus on ourselves, though, when we talk with those struggling, are we guilty of the same thing? Are we meeting people nonjudgmentally where they are and lending sympathetic ears and loving hearts? Do we affirm their worth and that God loves them?
God, thank you for your love. Help us to meet people where they are. Open our ears and hearts to their struggles. Give us the wisdom of when to stay silent and when to speak. Provide us the words to help and uplift and not harm. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.