Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar have beat Job with their words rather than comfort him in his pain. Job cried, they rationalized. He moaned, they explained. He wept, they discussed.  He mourned, they accused. When the three had finished their first round of their verbal assault, Job replies, “worthless physicians are you all. Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!”


When people are in despair, like Job, silence is golden. We cannot deal with pain intellectually while we’re in the middle of it. It’s not a rational subject and in the throws of suffering we are anything but rational beings. One Christian Psychologist says despair “tends to be characterized by tears, negative and hopeless/helpless thoughts, and a feeling of total emptiness and loss. Sleep and eating disturbances are common as the “reality” of the situation sets in.” This certainly describes Job’s condition. He goes on, “Relationships with other people can become more difficult at this time, but understanding and compassion must be given and accepted if one is to move beyond this stage (i.e. despair).”

In March of 1979, I was at a bible study when Kathy called the church for me. She talked to one of the Elders, David Reid, and told him that my father had just passed away. After he told me, he rested his head next to mine and just stood there with me. He didn’t say a thing. It was an awkward moment for me, because I was not accustomed to such behavior, but I’ve never forgotten that gesture of compassion. He simply added his strength to battle my loss.

When confronted with the suffering of others, we are all tempted to resolve it somehow. But usually there is really nothing we can do or say. But we can be compassionate. “Sympathy is two hearts tugging at one load,” said Charles A. Parkhurst. “The world hungers for compassion or sympathy. Often we can do nothing but sympathize—suffer with the distressed—but, oh, how it helps!”


” Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” (Job 2:10)