In Comforting Others You Will Comfort Yourself
Then Job answered and said, I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all...” Job 16:1-2
In this chapter we are going to see how that by helping others, we help ourselves. I just have to share a humorous story about compassion that gets misdirected. Jon was driving home late one night when he picked up a hitchhiker, compassionately trying to reach out and touch the life of this person. As they rode along he began to be suspicious of his passenger.
Jon then checked to see if his wallet was safe in the pocket of his coat that was on the seat between them, but it wasn’t there! So he slammed on the brakes ordered the hitchhiker out and said, “Hand over that wallet immediately!” The frightened hitchhiker handed over the billfold and Jon drove off.
When he arrived home he started telling his wife about the experience she said, “Oh, honey by the way before I forget, Jon did you know that you left your wallet at home this morning?” Ha!
That’s really the story of Job’s friends; they started off saying they were going to help but, but in fact, ended up being a great hurt to his heart. There are at least 42 amazing life lessons on adversity in the book of Job that we are learning. Eliphaz says, “You’re arrogant Job, and you think you’re always right. You don’t appreciate your friends.” Job’s answer is simply, “Look, I’m not saying I’m right, I’m just saying at this moment what I need is your encouragement. I need your love and support, not your misinformed sermons!”
In chapter 16 and 17 we find Job’s response to Eliphaz, “Then Job answered and said, I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all” (Job 16:1, 2). Everybody’s been talking about old Job and he says, in perhaps one of the most famous quotes in all of literature, “…miserable comforters are ye all.” He really wasn’t bitter, he was just saying in effect, “You guys are not helping…at all.” Learning how to be a good comforter is a wonderful gift from God. Knowing when to talk and knowing when to be silent, is from God. Job didn’t need some answers he needed someone.
Learning to get our comfort from God rather than people is not always an easy lesson. Henry Morrison, the great missionary to Africa, over 100 years ago, was coming home from Africa where he had served for decades. As he stood on the deck of the ship looking toward the port he posed the question to his wife, “I wonder if anyone will remember us? Do you think anyone will remember who we are? Will anybody meet us at the dock?” Also on that ship, unknown to Henry, was President Teddy Roosevelt who had gone to Africa on a hunting trip.
As they came into New York harbor, Morrison stood there on the deck and saw throngs of people welcoming the ship. Bands were blaring. Banners everywhere read, “Welcome home.” Henry and his wife got so excited! They went down to their cabin to get their luggage. As they came up on deck however they began to realize that all those people had not come to welcome them, but Teddy Roosevelt.
They went to their hotel that night with heavy hearts. The faithful missionary looked at his wife and said, “I really don’t get it, we’ve been in Africa for 40 years. We have poured our life into ministry and the work of God and yet we come back to America and not one single soul comes to welcomes us.”
His godly wife sat down next to Henry, put her comforting hand on his shoulder and said, “Honey, you’ve forgotten something…we’re not home yet!” How true! Real comfort for the Christian comes when you realize who you are here for.
Helping others helps yourself. Getting back into the swing of things after your mate dies takes a while, but the process is aided as you see that God’s gifting to you is to be used, not buried. In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25), Jesus impresses on Christians the importance of not losing opportunities given you. From the time of mankind’s creation, each individual has been entrusted with resources of time, skills and material goods to varying degrees. Everything we have comes from God and belongs to Him.
We are responsible for using those resources so that they increase in value. As Christians, we additionally have the most valuable resource of all – the Word of God! If we believe and apply His Word as good stewards and use our time, talents and treasure, we will then be a blessing to others and the value of what we do multiplies. We are accountable to the Lord for the use of His resources. Don’t bury those talents in the dirt of grief, but use them to be a blessing to others. After things settle down a bit, slowly look for ways to make your life useful! Because helping others helps you heal as you find your life is useful.
Compassion comes from two words: Com – which means to have something together; and passion – feelings. Some say, “I would love to help but I just don’t know what to do.” Well, here’s what you do, if you don’t know how to help, just move into their body for a few moments. Move into their life for a few moments. Move into their minds. Think about issues they might be facing in their particular situation.
Ask the Holy Spirit to bring things to mind. It will mean “moving into their skin.” For a few moments, move into the skin of that young mother who is carrying a baby; move into the skin of that young father who is trying to make a living; move into the skin of the teenage girl whose heart has been broken; move into the skin of that child and move into the skin of that 80 year-old who has fears and financial needs in her life.
When Elijah was discouraged, what did God do? Did God send him a video series on encouragement? No, God sent him a meal, a friend and let him sleep for a while! Sometimes that is all somebody needs – something practical and simple. I recall one small gift of compassion given to me as a young pastor that made such a big impression. We were living from penny to penny in southern California. I was still going to college, volunteering almost full-time at the church and working a secular job, trying to make a living. We went to a McDonalds to meet several people from the church, including visiting Evangelist, Tom Williams. As we were walking in, Evangelist Williams drove by in his car and called out with a big voice, “Hey Tim!”
I replied, “Hello Brother Williams, how are you?” Just then he said, “Here you go” and proceeded to throw money out his car window. He then rolled up his window and just drove off! That five-dollar bill lying there on the ground made us feel strangely loved…and I’m sure it did the same for him!