READ: Job 15-18
THINK: Have you ever been in a bad situation when someone stepped in to make things better-and ended up making them worse? Regardless of intentions, Job's friends couldn't resist the desire to resolve his situation. Their misguided efforts took them from observation to suggestion to accusation to condemnation-heaping an even greater sense of pain and isolation on Job. While you should be there for a suffering friend, be careful to listen without trying to judge or provide all the answers. Not knowing the reasons and motives behind a difficult situation, you could easily offer advice that's unneeded, unwelcome and inaccurate. Only God knows all the answers, and only as you listen to Him-and the other person-can you offer the comfort and encouragement he or she really needs.
RESPOND: Why did Job's friends refuse to consider Job's comments and sympathize with him? Why did they misperceive Job as being angry and accusatory toward God (15:12-13)? How was Eliphaz wrong in his general view of the lives of wicked people (15:20ff)? Why don't wicked people always suffer, and why don't good people always have it easy? How did Eliphaz (ch. 15) and Bildad (ch. 19) confuse God's eternal judgment with what happens to people in their earthly lives? What did Job's friends originally come to do for him (2:11) and what did they actually end up doing (16:2)? How did Job say he would treat others in his situation, and why (16:5)? In what way was Job beginning to wrestle with misperceptions of God's character and justice? (See 16:9 note.) Despite doubts and confusion, how did Job ultimately view God and what God would do for him (16:19-21)? (See 16:19 note.) Who is your "witness in heaven," who speaks to the Father in your defense? What did Job believe would happen to him soon, and why? (See 17:1 note.) Though Job maintained his innocence, how can you tell he wasn't arrogant? (See note.)
PRAY: Ask God to help you be an encouragement to everyone around you. Pray for strength to remain faithful to God and gracious toward people when you're misjudged. Give God thanks that He will enact perfect justice and make everything right in the end. Thank Jesus for being your intercessor and for pleading your case with the Father.
ACT: Do something to provide relief to someone going through a difficult time. Take care of a small task for the person, invite him or her to go out with a group of friends or ask specifically how you could help. Do something to help, encourage or befriend someone who has been misunderstood or treated unfairly by others.
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