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nurse consoling patient January 8 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Job 11, 12, 13, 14

Consoling or Counseling?

Know-it-alls–you have met them—hopefully, you are not one of them. In arrogance, wisdom is spouted as if those listening know nothing at all. How insulting this is, especially to those who are, or at least were, well-respected for their wisdom and good character! Suddenly, because they experience some trouble, it is assumed they know nothing and need to be instructed. This is how the patriarch Job feels in the time of Abraham (more...) as his three well-meaning friends try to counsel him. He needs consoling not counseling.

Zophar the Naamathite is the third friend to counsel Job. He, too, is convinced the trouble in Job's life is due to his sin. For Job to proclaim his innocence before them seems to mock God's justice and righteousness. Zophar defends God,

Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides.

Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin.

Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens-- what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave --what can you know?

Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear, (Job 11:5-8, 13-20, NIV).

Zophar concludes his counsel to Job by promising him a bright future if he repents.

What is Job's reply? In effect Job argues, I am not in the least bit inferior to you–I have a mind, and I can think as well as you! I understand the things you are talking about. Don't insult my intelligence or think you know more than me (Job 12:2-3; 13:2).

I am a laughingstock to my friends; I, who called to God and he answered me, a just and blameless man, am a laughingstock.
In the thought of one who is at ease there is contempt for misfortune; it is ready for those whose feet slip (Job 12:4-5, ESV).

Job's once envious friends are laughing at him now. They are at ease and feel contempt for his suffering, because they believe he has slipped morally.

In response to their mocking and contempt, Job says, Look at me! You can see I am suffering. Listen to me! You can hear I am a man of wisdom. God is Sovereign—he does what he wishes with his creation. But, I still want to make the case for my innocence.

You, who are my friends, should offer me words of encouragement, a healing balm to my soul. “You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you! If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom” (Job 13:4-5, NIV).

This is my confidence, Job declares, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him!” (Job 13:15-16, NIV)

After Job replies to Zophar, in his suffering he makes his complaint to God. It seems God is angry with him and Job wants to be left alone or killed so his pain will cease. We must remember, as stated in our last Bible study, people who are in tremendous agony from their circumstances often speak out of their pain. A person who is hurting “… feels but the pain of his own body and mourns only for himself.” He does not care for the welfare of anyone else (Job 14:22, NIV). People in great misery lash out at everyone, even God. Job, however, is not mocking God's justice and righteousness—he is appealing to it! Because he is doing it loudly does not mean he is railing at God—he is in pain! He appeals to God to show him his sin or end his suffering.

Lessons to Live By

• When we visit people who have suffered great calamities, trouble, or pain, let us not automatically assume they are guilty and full of sin. Let us offer consolation more than counsel. Let us not assume we know all the answers. There are some pointers in an earlier lesson if we don't know how to give consolation (more...).

• Listen and try to understand those who are afflicted. Be true friends and physicians, applying the healing balm of sympathy, comfort, and encouragement to their souls.

• Do you know God? He can be a balm to your hurting soul. (more...)

Today's Bible Memory Verses

Proverbs 12:18 (NIV) “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

1Peter 3:8 (NIV) “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”

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A Look Ahead: Encourage, Don't Discourage those who suffer. How might we do this? Learn more in our next Bible study.

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