“my mouth would encourage you;
comfort from my lips would bring you relief”
I have friends who have a little girl who has had myriad problems since she was born. They have spent much time at the hospital, sometimes long-term, for surgeries, but also for many, many check-ups and appointments. One of these times, as they left the hospital, they were in an accident. A woman backed into them, even though they honked repeatedly, trying to draw her attention to the fact that they were behind her.
After she hit them, my friend’s husband got out to have that whole “yes, we are fine; are you fine? good, now who’s your insurance carrier” etc. conversation. When he returned to the car, he said to my friend, “That was no accident. God doesn’t have accidents.” He had shared with the lady, about his little girl, and she had shared that her granddaughter had cancer. And so they prayed together.
In this passage in Job, Job has been repeatedly lambasted by his “friends”, and when it is his turn to speak, he tells them that if their positions were reversed, what he would have to say to them would be comfort and encouragement. And the reason he can be so certain of this, is that he has experience at the suffering, so he knows what the appropriate response should be. Having never gone through what Job is experiencing, his friends are less than successful at edifying him.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 calls God the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” But as if it’s not enough that God comforts us in our troubles, it goes on to say that He does so, “that we can comfort those in any trouble, with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” We are expected to comfort others, and having gone through suffering gives us the perspective to do so. My friend, who has a special-needs child, and the grandmother, who has a grand-daughter with cancer, were uniquely qualified to pray for one another.
Your suffering may not be deserved; it may not be fair; it may not even seem to have a point to you. But it qualifies you to encourage, support and comfort someone else. To not do so, is to cheat them out of strength they need; and cheat you out of the blessing you could be.