Treat Others Kindly
Gentle Savior, may I be a source of strength and life to those who suffer.
Read Job 6:1-30
 Then Job replied:  “If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales!  It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas- no wonder my words have been impetuous.  The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God’s terrors are marshaled against me.  Does a wild donkey bray when it has grass, or an ox bellow when it has fodder?  Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the sap of the mallow?  I refuse to touch it; such food makes me ill.  “Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for,  that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose his hand and cut off my life!  Then I would still have this consolation- my joy in unrelenting pain- that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.  “What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?  Do I have the strength of stone? Is my flesh bronze?  Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me?  “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.  But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow  when darkened by thawing ice and swollen with melting snow,  but that stop flowing in the dry season, and in the heat vanish from their channels.  Caravans turn aside from their routes; they go off into the wasteland and perish.  The caravans of Tema look for water, the traveling merchants of Sheba look in hope.  They are distressed, because they had been confident; they arrive there, only to be disappointed.  Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid.  Have I ever said, ‘Give something on my behalf, pay a ransom for me from your wealth,  deliver me from the hand of the enemy, rescue me from the clutches of the ruthless’?  “Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong.  How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove?  Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat my desperate words as wind?  You would even cast lots for the fatherless and barter away your friend.  “But now be so kind as to look at me. Would I lie to your face?  Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake.  Is there any wickedness on my lips? Can my mouth not discern malice? Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectCan you offer the gift of quiet presence to those in pain?
Job is in despair (13,26). He wishes he were dead and asks God to grant his wish (8,9). His friends’ arguments just make him feel worse (25-27)!We know that the presence of someone who cares about us in the midst of pain reduces its felt intensity and/or increases our capacity to endure pain. Just ask any woman going through childbirth. We need human company (Gen. 2:18), particularly when we’re suffering. Perhaps the kindest thing we can do for those suffering is to be with them non-judgmentally. That’s what Job longs to receive (14,26,27). And even in the midst of our own pain, caring for others is transformative. In the dark journey of a painful period of my life something changed for me when I began to reach out and care for others. I could only manage small acts of kindness and not for very long initially, but something definitely turned around in me. How do we live in a suffering world? We can reach out and care for others, even when it’s the last thing we feel like doing. Isolation increases suffering.
Ask God to show you someone who needs a friend in their suffering and be present to them in their time of need.
Lord, thank You that You enter into my pain as well as my joy. Thank You for Your deep and abiding care.