Today we consider Job’s infamous three friends; (let’s face it, we’ve all got them.)
You know, those ‘helpful’ Christians who tell you what you’ve done wrong in your life to cause suffering.
I will offer a deeper perspective as to why they behave in that way, and suggest 5 steps you can implement to guard your heart from their hurtful comments.
Do you have people in your life who screen you for the reasons you’re not healed?
Because you’re was suffering with symptoms, it’s easy to feel you can’t argue.
Are there Job’s friends in your world? Whilst there can be an element of truth in people’s comments, why do words hurt so much?
Because often words can be:
- spoken out of context or outside of God’s timing
- said without wisdom
- have no Holy Spirit guidance
Let’s take a look at the situation of Job’s friends:
Job’s three friends said some terrible things.
Job’s friend Eliphaz tells him in Job 4:7 “who ever perished being innocent” His friend Bildad also tells Job his sin caused his suffering in Job 8 and finally Job’s friend Zophar in chapter 11, tells him that his misfortunes are down to his ‘iniquity and wickedness’
Job’s friends seem to believe the karmic ‘do bad, get bad’ type belief system. This doesn’t add up to me. There are plenty of people out there living ungodly lives yet they never get sick.
Has anyone ever blamed you for your illness? I’m so sorry if they have; you are not alone.
So why did Job’s friends blame Job for his trials? Here are 2 reasons:
1. THE PARENT EGO
Job’s friends wrongly assumed because they were healthy, then they must be right and Job in the wrong.
They came from a place of comparison and superiority. Job needed love and empathy but unfortunately he endured criticism and judgment.
In my experience, those people who wound us the most with words, often have an unhealthy life position. Job’s friends see themselves ‘better than’.
They don’t see the harm in voicing an opinion on someone else’s experience. They operate from a Parent Ego.
In Proverbs, the Bible tells us that fools voice their opinion.
Most people wouldn’t dream of sharing their thoughts about somebody else’s life but when you operate from a Parent Ego, you think it’s normal.
You think it’s your right and duty to do so.
2. SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS
The Bible tells us that Job was self-righteous, but his friends were also self-righteous. They assume that Job is sinning more than they based on the fact that he is encountering problems.
This is so judgemental.
They have the nerve to apply the Word but take it completely out of context.
The Bible teaches that LIFE AND DEATH IS IN THE POWER OF THE TONGUE. Pro 18:21
You know if someone is speaking truth and life because of the way it feels. Is it life-giving or is it condemning? Speaking the Word of God is only life-giving when in context.
The Bible is healing, uplifting and encouraging. It leads us, offers us wisdom and even chastises us. But when taken out of context, the opposite can happen; in fact, it can be traumatic.
This is what is happening when Job’s friends speak to him as they’re applying the Word inaccurately.
HOW TO DEAL WITH COMFORTERS
1. HEAR THE HOLY SPIRIT YOURSELF SO YOU WON’T BE SWAYED BY THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS
If someone tells you what needs to change, what sin is hindering you etc etc, you will instantly know if it’s right and from God, because it confirms the Holy Spirit’s voice within you
That is why hearing the Holy Spirit for yourself is a priority.
I was in a church once and the pastor said self-hatred, self-rejection and guilt causes the type of pain condition I live with. I knew instantly that this was correct and from God.
I’ve had other experiences where people play ‘hunt the sin’ and are completely off track. These are the modern day Job’s friends.
God leads you from within, one step at a time. He doesn’t give you a long list of all the things that aren’t right.
When you develop your own relationship with God, you’ll test the words of others. You’ll know if their words are in alignment with the Word of God or whether they are twisting it to suit their argument.
2. GROW IN SELF LOVE SO YOU CAN STICK UP FOR YOURSELF.
The more you love yourself, the less wounding the words of others are. Being and feeling secure in who you are in Christ in addition to self love, will strengthen your inner core.
You stick up for yourself and give yourself a voice as you recognise your need for self honour.
Often if we have a poor self concept or low self esteem, it’s easy to succumb to people pleasing. We allow people to say whatever they want and conform to who others want us to be. Or, we start feeling that wound.
Interestingly, if you are on the receiving end of a Parent Ego, you may find yourself defaulting to your inner child anyway. Learning to communicate your needs is a form of self-love.
3. CHOOSE THE RIGHT FRIENDS TO SUPPORT YOU
The phrases you may hear from Job’s friends are ‘well at least it’s not cancer’…’chin up it’s not that bad’…or ’autistic people are worse off…’ are common and devalue our experience. They are a form of judgement.
The wisdom I’ve learnt is this:
It’s not always wise to share your hurts and pain with everyone. Telling the wrong people what’s going on with you invites opinion, comparison and judgment.
You only need a few faith filled friends on your journey and that’s all; trying to force someone to understand just doesn’t work.
4. LEARN TO PUT IN A BOUNDARY TO CUSHION ANY HURT
You don’t have to end a friendship because someone doesn’t understand, you can put in extra boundaries.
I’m growing in my boundary placing – something I never really learned to do; I find sticking up for myself difficult. As I grow in the area of self-love, I’m finding my voice a bit more.
Know it’s ok to tell people their words are hurtful if necessary.
It’s also ok to suggest friends to steer clear of the subject of your health.
Otherwise people will continue to think their words are helping and you’ll end up with an accumulation of hurt leading to resentment and anger (which isn’t good for your healing or wellbeing).
5. PRAY FOR YOUR FRIENDS SO YOUR HEART IS IN THE RIGHT PLACE
I love that Job prayed for his friends in the end. When Jesus hung on the cross and said ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing’, (Luke 23:34) it showed such grace, love and obedience to God.
Non of us have any right to hold onto unforgiveness. It’s wise to do a heart check to ensure you’re not holding onto any grudges.
Forgiveness is healthy, obedient and good for your mental health. It’s also good to remember that people aren’t all bad.
Job’s friends came from afar to be with their friend, they made time for him. They sat with him, in silence for a week, empathising with his suffering.
Can you see your friends the way God sees them? Remember God loves them despite any failings.
THE ICEBERG: WHAT’S THE WHOLE TRUTH?
In counselling we use the anger iceberg to help our clients identify what else is going on underneath the presenting issue.
You may be angry at one of your ‘Job’s comforters’ and it may be right to voice your concerns to them. What they are saying is not ok.
However, whilst people do trigger us, we are the ones who load the gun.
If you are living with disappointment or are grieving, it’s easier for you to project this as anger onto someone else.
Anger is a secondary emotion and usually something that we’re comfortable with.
Grieving or disappointment is not. If we’re not careful, the anger can become a smokescreen.
All of our energies go onto the person who hurt us, whilst we ignore the real issues.
What would our healing journeys look like if we learned to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying and leading us into?
Who in your world is no longer serving you?
Did you identify any other emotions from the anger iceberg diagram that you need to consider?
God Bless you today
If you haven’t already, take a read of these posts: