“Sufferers attract fixers the way road-kills attract vultures.” This quote from the preamble to Job, Led by Suffering to the Heart of God (which is a little book containing just the book of Job, from the Message) describes Job’s friends perfectly! (By the way, I am loving reading Job from The Message. It is so relevant and this version is easy to read.)
Isn’t the vulture description so true! Do you remember when your child was a baby, or while you were pregnant? Did total strangers have comments or advice for you? I know I needed advice when I was a new mom or when the kids were in middle school, and other times. But intrusive, unsolicited advice is annoying. It also happens if you have cancer – people come out of the wood work to tell you about their uncle twice removed who had [a totally different kind of]cancer and did some crazy thing and got well, so you should do the same thing. And I’ll bet it is happening to you as you grieve the death of your child. People have unsolicited advice for you.
Here is another piece of unsolicited advice for you: Don’t listen to most of it. Don’t give it any of your time or mental energy. Job’s friends were obsessed with their point of view – that Job must have done something to deserve all his losses! They assumed that bad things happen to bad people, only bad people. They were wrong. We can see how their assumptions were wrong from the opening scene in God’s court. God calls Job “righteous”. But still bad things happened to him. Job’s friends and contemporaries didn’t have the advantage of the insight given in the recorded Word of God. But even now that we have that written Word, the same point of view is common among people in our present culture. They are wrong too. The biblical view is that you didn’t do anything to cause God to punish you by your child’s death. John 9 also demonstrates the same truth: Jesus answered that neither the blind man nor his parents sinned to cause his blindness.
So you want to listen to good advice from people who have experienced trials, troubles, suffering and losses, who have also come through it stronger and wiser than before. You want to listen to advice that comes from truth and wisdom – like from the Bible, a great, trustworthy source. You want to listen to advice from people who walk with God.
Friends and strangers will come to you with advice. Some of it will not be very good. Much of it will be based on false assumptions and inexperience. But the Lord will also send you others who will speak encouragement and wisdom that will be truly helpful to you in your grief. Listen to those voices and grow closer to the Lord whom they are close to.
Here is a sampling of the conversation between Job and his “counselors:”
Bildad: “How monotonous these word games are getting! Get serious! We need to get down to business…. Here’s the rule: The light of the wicked is put out. Their flame dies down and is extinguished.
… their lives go up in smoke; acid rain soaks their ruins….
Job: “How long are you going to keep battering away at me; pounding me with these harangues?
Time after time after time you jump all over me.
Do you have no conscience, abusing me like this?...
“Still, I know that God lives—the One who gives me back my life—and eventually he’ll take his stand on earth. And I’ll see him… see God myself, with my very own eyes. Oh how I long for that day! (Job, the Message, verses from chapters 18 and 19)
Job turned from his friends full of bad advice and called out to the Lord. You can too. Next time we’ll see how the Lord answered Job’s call.