What to Say to Friends that Suffer

A friend has a bad day, loses a loved one, or has a serious illness. What do we say?

We want to help, but we don’t want to make it worse. The Bible has a book called Job, think Joe-Buh, not a task or occupation. It is about a man, named Job, who loses so much at one one: kids, health, etc. The only thing he doesn’t lose is his nagging wife. His friends hear about his sufferings and come to the rescue.

Job’s Friends sit with him, in silence, for seven days.

Imagine life being so bad, you sit in silence for seven days. Imagine having a set of friends who would do this with you.

Everything was great until his friends starting talking.

After seven days the friends couldn’t stand the silence. They started to talk, and it was not good. His friends started blaming him for all the bad things in his life. They thought – bad things are happing to Job – he must be a bad person. The irony of the book is that Job is not suffering because he is bad, but because he is good. All the misery is a test of his faith. His friends soon this it the hard way.

When a friend is hurting, you don’t have to say anything at all.

Just be present. Besides, our friends usually don’t remember what we say to them in times of need. What do they remember? That we are there for them. Of course, there are times when they ask for advice or need words of comfort. But, most of the time, as we suffer, we need people just to sit with us, not speak to us.

Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all.

Proverbs 17:28, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”


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