Today’s scripture selection: Job 15-16
Key verses: Job 16:1-3
“Then Job replied, ‘I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you! Will your long-winded speeches never end?’ “
It’s a sobering thought to realize what lousy counselors we can be from time to time.
I’m not talking about those of us who are professionally trained in psychotherapy or consultation (although we can fail miserably from time to time as well). I am talking about all of us – average Joe or Mary – who are caught off guard by someone’s need.
There we are – happily going about our business – working our jobs; making money; paying bills; getting the kids to the next ball game or dance recital. We are walking down the grocery aisle or working the crossword puzzle at the coffee shop and, without warning, there it is – NEED.
The co-worker, the waitress, the next door neighbor, the kid from up the street – we say hello and ask by rote, just to be polite – “Hey, how’s it’ goin?”
And, although we would prefer that the person in front of us would just answer “great” and keep on moving, they do something instead. They sigh, or look down, or maybe have the audacity to actually answer our question.
“Not so good…in fact…things have been pretty rough lately.”
Then the dreaded question comes: “Hey, you got a minute?”
And you think – “NO! I DON’T – NOT NOW – NOT TODAY!!”
So we brush them off; or answer perfunctorily; or offer some platitude that doesn’t really help. And we join the ranks of the “miserable comforters” of the world.
Well – it’s easy to do. I’m certainly guilty of doing it. But let me suggest that, the next time you have such an encounter with need, you do something different. Just stop and listen – really listen. That’s often all you have to do. You don’t have to be perfect or have all the answers. But when you respond to real need with real empathy – well, you do something very important. In fact, you become an instrument of God’s grace. It takes time and effort. But it can change lives.
And isn’t that worth a little bit of our time?
Prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace – even when it is very inconvenient for me. AMEN.