When Comfort Is DiscomfortDr. Erwin W. Lutzer | February 19, 1995
Selected highlights from this sermon
Three of Job’s friends came to comfort him. Though their intentions were good, they caused Job more despair, and he sank deeper into depression.
Pastor Lutzer takes examples from the speeches by each of Job’s friends and shows us what was wrong with what they said, and how their form of comfort was not the best way to help Job.
But by examining their mistakes, Pastor explains how we can avoid the same ones and how we can truly comfort those who are in distress and suffering.
Someday when we see Christ everything will become plain and clear and we’ll understand it. Until that time there is a lot of mystery. There is a story, perhaps fictitious, of a young seminarian who was interning in a church and he was asked to do some hospital visitation. On his first visit to the hospital the man was laying there bent over and began to quote some verses of Scripture to bring comfort to the one who was suffering. And the patient became very agitated, and clearly was asking for a pen or something to write with. So the young man took his pen out of his pocket and he gave it to the man who scrawled something on a piece of paper very quickly. And immediately after the note was written the man expired right there. He died. Well, the young seminarian was very upset, of course. This was his first hospital visit and to have this happen was more than he could almost bear, but after all of the things happened and the body was taken away and so forth he was walking back to his car and decided to read the note that had been scrawled and he looked at it and he noticed that the man said, “Move. You’re standing on my oxygen tube.” Well, whether that story is true or not, it does have a very important point. There are some people who mean very well, and they have wonderful intentions but they hurt you very deeply and do more harm than good.
The Bible says in Second Corinthians that God comforts us in all of our tribulation that we might be able to comfort others with the comfort wherewith we are comforted of God.
This morning I have the very happy privilege of introducing you to Job’s comforters. If you’ve been with us you know that this is the third in a series of messages on the book of Job. God willing there will be a total of eight messages, and this is a marvelous book, and Job has three comforters who like to give long speeches. We aren’t going to read all of those speeches you might be glad to know, but I would like you to read them on your own. And we are introduced to them in Job 2:12.
Job is suffering miserably as we learned in the last two messages, and Job 2:12 says, “And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” If that’s all they had done they would have had a great ministry in Job’s life but problems began when they began to open their mouths.
Now when you read these speeches there are several things that you need to recognize. First of all, some of the things that they say are good and right. There’s a lot of wisdom that you find in these three friends. Some of the things that they say are wrong and accusatory, and some of the things that they say are irrelevant. But what I’d like to do now is to introduce them to you so that we find out who they are and then we can get on with the business of finding out where they went wrong.
First of all we’re introduced to a man by the name of Eliphaz the Temanite. Notice in chapter 4 he speaks after Job gives that remarkable soliloquy that we commented on last time. And you’ll notice that Eliphaz in Job 4:1 answers and says, “If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? Yet who can keep from speaking? Behold, you have instructed many, and you have strengthened the weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. But now it has come to you, and you are impatient.” What he’s saying is, “Job, you have helped others, and now that you are going through a trial what’s your big complaint?” And he’s saying, “Why don’t you just live up to what you told others to do?”
Now none of us like that kind of advice. I know because I’m a preacher and I live with preachers’ kids. That’s part of the agreement. Do you remember that wonderful series of messages that I preached on following Jesus Christ many years ago? The first message said that we should always ask, “Is this what Jesus would do?” whenever we’re going to do something. I remember being home on that Sunday evening and after the evening service I was watching some television and Lisa came down and said, “Well, Dad, is that what would Jesus would do?” Well you know we don’t like to hear that. We are supposed to always abide by our own words. We should and I try to, but Job, you are the one who has instructed others. Why don’t you now take your own medicine?
Look at what he says now as we begin to move through this passage of Scripture only very briefly. Where is it that he bases his views? Where does he get his information? Well, let’s pick up the text in Job 4:7. “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.”
Now Eliphaz got his information from some kind of a mystical vision. Notice it says in verse 12, “Now a word was brought to me stealthily my ear received the whisper of it. Amid thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, dread came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face the hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes, there was silence, then I heard a voice ‘Can mortal man be in the right before God?’” The bottom line of what he’s saying, and he’s trying to be polite (he’s one of the most polite of the three) is, “Job, as far as I’m concerned, those who sow iniquity reap it.”
Now it’s very important for you to know that in the next chapters, that is chapters 6 and 7, Job gives his reply, and he pours out his vexation of heart. Notice in Job 6:4 he says, “For the arrows of the Almighty are in me my spirit drinks their poison the terrors of God are arrayed against me.” And if you read these chapters you will find that Job is pouring out all of his vexation, his grief and his anguish.
Now what you need to know is that Eliphaz shows up two more times because each of these men end up all giving three speeches to which Job replies, except Zophar gives only two. There’s another young man who comes and takes his third speech and we’ll be introduced to him in a future message. So that’s all that we’ll say about Eliphaz.
Now we come to another man whom some people have said is the smallest man surely in all of history. His name is Bildad the Shuhite. Let’s look at Job 8. (Am I going too fast for some of you?) Let’s look at Job 8 where Bildad comes up and he begins to give his speech. He said in Job 8:5, “If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation. And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.”
So what he is saying is essentially the same thing. “There you are. You are complaining. You are talking about how depressed you are. You’re wishing for the day that you were born and you wish you had died before you were born or at birth, but, Job, if you just got serious with God, he’d meet you.”
Now where does he get his information? Well, if Eliphaz is a mystic, this man is a historian. Notice what he says. “For inquire, please, of bygone ages, and consider what the fathers have searched out. For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?” Job, what you need to do is to go back and to look at tradition and look at what others have said and you will find nuggets of wisdom that will help you through this circumstance.
And so I want you to notice that Job replies now in chapters 9 and 10, and he spills out his soul. He says in Job 9:2, “Truly I know that it is so but how can a man be in the right before God?” What you are saying may be right, and you tell me to seek God, but how do I find him?” In fact, we’re going to be considering that in a future message, as Job spills out his heart and says, “Where is God when I need him? Why does he always hide himself when I am in the midst of all of this distress?” But he doesn’t help Job’s despair. In fact, if we had the time we’d see that at the end of this speech Job begins to sink into deep depression again, and wish for death.
Now let me introduce you to a third of his friends “Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and a man full of talk be judged right? Should your babble silence men, and when you mock, shall no one shame you? For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in God’s eyes.’ But oh, that God would speak.” Let’s pick it up at verse 7. “Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.” Verse 13 says, “If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish you will be secure and will not fear. You will forget your misery you will remember it as waters that have passed away.”
“Job, cough it up. What is it that you have done that is causing this? If only you would stop trying to justify yourself. If only you would search your heart and find out all of the iniquity that is in it and confess it, you’d get on with the business of being healthy, happy and wise, and you wouldn’t have to sit in this ash heap with a disease that has troubled you from the top of your head to the very soles of you feet. What is it, Job? Get honest.”
Now I want you to know that Job then replies and he replies in chapters 12 to 14 (and of course, we can only look at that briefly) with a great deal of anger and sarcasm. Look at Job 12:1 for example. “Then Job answered and said: ‘No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you. But I have understanding as well as you I am not inferior to you. Who does not know such things as these? I am a laughingstock to my friends I, who called to God and he answered me, a just and blameless man, am a laughingstock.’” And he goes on to say that his reputation has been ruined. The stories that people are telling about him in town are getting around. Rumors are spreading. He is being implicated in sin and he does not know what to do because, search his heart as he will, he cannot point to anything that has caused this disaster.
Now because we are doing a survey of the book of Job, and we’re not at all going to look at every chapter (I’m expecting you to do all the reading), let me go to the end of the book and ask this question. What does God think of these three friends anyway? Now they meant well and many of the things that they said were wise and good, and they acted on the basis of the knowledge that they had, but what does God think? It certainly is worth your time to turn to Job 42 where we can see exactly how God regarded all of this wisdom, well intentioned though it was.
Job 42:7 says, “After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.’” God says, “Your theology was wrong, and you approached this incorrectly and I am not pleased.” In fact Job ends up offering sacrifices for his three friends so that the judgment of God against them would be held back. Wow! Well, in analyzing all of this we have to ask the question, where did they go wrong and what was so wrong with their advice?
Well, what I’d like to do now is to give you three mistakes that Job’s friends made in doing their counseling and in doing their pastoral visitation class that God asked them to respond to. Where did they go wrong?
Number one, Job’s friends talked without feeling. They were having a speculative discussion at Job’s expense. They were having a rousing theological discussion, and they came with their preconceived ideas and their preconceived notions. They were not in sorrow. It was not they who were feeling the tremendous pressure of this illness. It was not their wives who suggested they curse God and die, and therefore they could talk freely. As a matter of fact, they were very concerned that this intellectual discussion go on so that they could display some of their knowledge and their team insights, and they had many team insights, but they did not take into account that they were speaking to someone who was hurting so badly he could not see God. And sometimes we do hurt that badly.
So first of all I would like to say that they talked without feeling because it was a speculative discussion. They talked without feeling because it was also a prejudiced discussion. If you read these speeches you find out that these men have their minds made up and their great concern is that Job agree with them. What they were saying is, “If you simply recognize that you are getting what you deserve, if you got out of this syndrome of denial, and admitted the truth, why then indeed you would be helped,” and no matter what Job said they kept responding in the same way, time and time again, and if you read the book you find out that each time they speak, they get more direct and they become even meaner.
You know, it’s one thing to teach theology as a speculative study. I’ve taught theology. I used to teach theology at Moody Bible Institute and enjoyed it completely and wouldn’t mind teaching theology again. But you know what’s so interesting is you’re in a theology class and you are discussing issues such as whether or not babies go to heaven when they die. We wish that the Scripture were clearer. There are some hints that they do indeed go to heaven. We wish that the Bible would say more about that. And then in the class there’s an older couple. One of them puts up a hand and says, “You know we had a son who was killed in an accident at the age of five. Do you think that he is in heaven? Has he passed the age of accountability?” And suddenly the classroom is electrified and there’s almost a silence that comes over the classroom because from now on the discussion is no longer speculative. Now suddenly we are dealing with hard issues. Now suddenly we are talking about things that have caused grief, and weeks and nights of tears, and now suddenly the discussion becomes very different.
One day, and it must be 12 or 15 years ago, I was speaking at a conference and a man asked to see me later, and I still remember him. I think I would almost recognize him if I saw him after these years. He was standing outside under a tree and I’ll never forget his face. He had a son who had just committed suicide about ten days before, and this Christian man, as he was spilling out all of his grief and all of his unanswered questions said to me, “Really, I have to say that if my son is not going to be in heaven, I don’t want to be in heaven either.” He said, “There’s no way that I can be in heaven if my son is lost.” And so we discussed whether or not (a) his son had accepted Christ, and there was some question about that, but (b) if the answer is yes, what happens to someone who commits suicide who is a true believer?
Now the interesting thing is that these are the kinds of discussions that can take place theoretically very easily but when you have a broken man who is weeping before God, who is crying out and who refuses comfort, suddenly they take on an entirely different character, and I said some things to him. I think I even said some wise things to him, but I don’t think that he received them. Maybe I was like one of Job’s friends, who thought I had all the answers when in point of fact it is very difficult sometimes to have a speculative theological answer to an emotional hurt. It’s very difficult.
Now you know there are some people who have very good intentions, who when someone gets sick simply says to them, “What you need to do is to confess your sin. You need to have enough faith. You need to seek God and when you do God will hear you and God will answer you.”
Now to me this discussion is not speculative because there was a member of our own family who bought heavily into that theology and when this individual was not healed at a particular point in time went through days and days of depression, believing that God had forsaken her. If you accept that theology that everybody is supposed to be healed all the time, that all that they need to do is have faith, and if they aren’t healed it’s because of lack of faith, that can become diabolically cruel, and if you believe that, I suggest that you read the last part of the book of Job because God was not happy that those three friends tried to pound that into Job’s head. It isn’t that simple.
Sometimes when people become sick there are those who send them books in the hospital, underlined in the appropriate places and say, “Be sure to read this,” and then those books are sent sometimes even anonymously, just saying, “Get with the program and you will be healed. What sin is it that you have committed that you have not dealt with?”
Number one, they talked without feeling. They had many nice things to say, but Job was the one who was hurting. It was an unfair discussion ’s entirely different when that hot iron stake is in your own flesh.
Secondly, they talked without listening. Now we don’t have time to do that here. That’s your assignment. You’re supposed to be reading the book of Job, and I’m sure that all of you are. I am a man of faith, and I expect you to be reading it and one of the things that you should look out for as you read it is this. You’ll find that Job asks a whole series of questions and then the next person who speaks does not answer those questions at all because really they are not interested in what Job has to say. They are interested in giving their theological discussion because they are saying, “We have worked this out. We believe that everybody who reaps iniquity reaps it because they have sown it, and all that we are doing is we are trying to look at your life and to try to figure out why you are going through this experience, and if you only gave us the time, and if you were only honest you’d admit it’s because you are a big sinner who has not really been willing to take care of sin in your life.”
And so, Job asked questions that they didn’t answer. They didn’t treat him fairly. They were not trying to look at life through his viewpoint. They were trying to say, “This is the way it is.”
There’s an old Indian proverb that says that no one should criticize someone else unless he has walked a mile in his moccasins. Very good, very good! One of the best things you can do as a counselor, one of the best things you can do to hurting people is to try to put yourself in his or her shoes. One of the things that I find is that if you were that individual in that context you would react in the very same way that he or she is reacting. We become much more tolerant of other people’s failings and their pain when we begin to listen to them and try to walk a mile in their moccasins.
All right, they talked actually without feeling. They talked without listening. They talked without knowledge. That was their big mistake. You see, the three friends didn’t know what you and I know. We have such an advantage and that’s why I don’t want to be overly critical with them. They were working with the theology that they had but you see, their theology lacked something. It’s like all of us have had the experience of walking along a street, or I remember out on the farm walking along a field and seeing some letter that had been torn up into all kinds of bits. And you get this bit of it and this piece over here and you maybe get a phrase or maybe get a word, but all the rest is missing and you can’t make sense out of it. And that’s what they had. They had a little bit of knowledge here, a little bit here, and some very good insights over there, but they didn’t see the whole picture. They didn’t know that God and the devil had had this discussion about Job. We know that. They didn’t know it.
They didn’t know that Satan and God had the discussion, and God said, “Have you considered my servant, Job, that he’s upright and he’s blameless, and fears God and turns away from evil?” And Satan said, “Oh sure, you’re bribing him. Anybody would as long as you give him a lovely family, and lots of money, lots of servants, a wonderful wife, and anybody would serve God with that kind of a payoff.”
And then God says, “No, I think that he is going to serve me even if you take the other away,” and Satan says, “I believe that he’ll curse you to your face.” God says, “Try it.” And then they have two discussions about that because Job ends up with his health and then Satan says, “Well, you know, just take his health away and you’ll see what’s going to happen.”
His friends didn’t know that. They didn’t know the past. They didn’t know the future. They didn’t know that someday God was going to give Job twice as much as he had completely, and much less did they know that the time was going to come when Job was going to have to pray for them so that they would escape the discipline of God. That certainly was a shock that was still in the future. They didn’t know that. And you know what the other thing was that they really didn’t know God’s hidden plans. They didn’t know what the Almighty was up to. They didn’t understand it all.
Now I want you to notice what Job thought of his friends. In one place he says, “You know, I would just like to have a friend,” and they’re saying, “Hey, you’ve got three of them. It’s just that we’re trying to cram something into your head and you are having a hard time understanding it.” Look at Job 19:1. Job responds after all these speeches and the speeches are not through yet because this book goes on for a while. If you’ve ever tried to read it you know that it doesn’t stop anytime too soon, but notice in Job 19:1 it says, “Then Job answered and said: ‘How long will you torment me and break me in pieces with words? These ten times you have cast reproach upon me are you not ashamed to wrong me? And even if it be true that I have erred, my error remains with myself. If indeed you magnify yourselves against me, and make my disgrace an argument against me, know then that God has put me in the wrong and closed his net about me.’” He’s saying, “That’s the end result of what you folks are saying.” But notice he says, “How long are you going to crush me with words?”
In my life I have met only one person (so I want you to notice how generous my evaluation is) that comes immediately to mind when I think of that verse, and this individual happened to be a lady who really felt that she knew about everything God was doing in everybody’s life, and what his ultimate purpose was. I was convinced that this woman was able to wake up in the morning and read the fine print of God’s diary so that she could tell everybody what his purpose was for everybody. And I remember sometimes saying to myself, “Oh, do no longer crush me with words,” and I suppose that all of us have met people like that, haven’t we?
Now having delineated three errors that they made, namely to talk without feeling, and to talk without listening, and to talk without knowledge, what I’d like to do now is to give you some advice that I have learned and that the book of Job would want to teach us regarding how to comfort people who are going through distress so that your comfort will not be discomfort, so that the person with whom you visit in the hospital, when you say to them, “Is there any way that I can help you?” will not be tempted to say, “Yes, please leave and that might be the way in which you could help me the most right now.”
Number one, we must feel people’s pain “You know the most difficult things to endure at a funeral are the glib, thoughtless comments that are made oftentimes at the wake or at the funeral by well-meaning people who quote verses of Scripture and even say good things. They’ll say to this widow whose heart is so broken and shattered, “Well, isn’t it wonderful that he’s better off.” Well, yeah, he is better off, but it’s the unfeeling careless way that it is said that is just like a dagger into that dear woman’s heart. Your first responsibility is to feel their pain. Christ is touched with the feelings of our infirmities, the Bible says, and that’s why he makes such a good high priest. And that’s why the best person to minister to someone who has been abused is someone who has been abused but has worked through it and has seen God in the midst of the abuse. And that’s why the best person to help an alcoholic is someone who himself was once an alcoholic but is now out of that lifestyle. Why? It’s because then you get the feeling that this person has been through it, but we don’t have to have all these experiences to comfort people. We just need to feel their pain. There are some people in the congregation here this morning as I look out whom I know your pains because you have shared them with me and I considered the sharing of your pain with me a very sacred trust.
Joe Bailey lost three sons, and some of you have read his books, and he himself now has been reconciled with his sons in heaven. He died a few years ago. When his 19-year old son died, Joe Bailey, I’m told was coming down an elevator and on that elevator there was a nurse, and the nurse said to him with tears in her eyes, “Oh Mr. Bailey, I wish I could say something that would make it better,” and he looked at her and said, “You already have.” The tears in her eyes already communicated more than any words of wisdom could possibly communicate. We must always feel their pain.
Secondly, we must accept the ambiguity. Somehow I like that word ambiguity. Let me say it again. We have to accept the ambiguity of God’s will and purposes. Now you’re going to say, “Well is there a purpose for Job having suffered?” Yes, there is a purpose. It’s not the purpose you probably think, but there is going to be a purpose, and believe me, I’m not going to share that with you today. I want you to be around at the end of this book, but the fact is, the older I get, the more ambiguous God’s ways sometimes are they keep making less and less sense to me, and we have to be comfortable with that.
Somebody comes to me and says, “Well, Pastor, I’m going through this trial. Is it because of some sin that I committed? Am I being disciplined for the sin, or what is its purpose?” and I have to say, “I don’t know,” because the older I get, the more amazed I am at how few things God runs by me first before he does them in the world. And we must not be so quick and so glib as to think that we have found God’s hidden purpose in all that is happening. Now there is an explosive purpose, which will, as I mentioned, be explained in a future message, but God’s ways are past finding out. I mean how do you explain young people dying of a disease and older people who want to die being unable to die? And how do you explain missionaries dying in their youth who want to go to the mission field and they get a disease and they die, and we know that God could have kept them alive because missionaries are needed? I mean, how do you figure all that out? One of the things we need to do is to be very cautious as to what we say so that we don’t fall into the condemnation ________.
Getting back to this business of feeling your pain and accepting the ambiguity of God’s purposes, the second funeral I ever conducted in my life was of a young woman who died at the age of 21, falling off a bicycle, and hitting her head, and she was gone, and to this day the autopsy is ambiguous. They never did discover whether it was the falling off the bicycle that caused the death, or whether something already happened and she died and then fell off the bicycle, but she was brain dead and eventually they took her off all these support systems. And Rebecca and I were there from about 7:00 in the evening to about midnight with the family on the evening that it happened, and we sat there and cried with them, and read Scripture with them. And years and years later, whenever that couple would see us they would thank us for that evening, and they would always say, “You had so much wisdom in what you shared.” And I often wondered and I used to say to Rebecca, “I wonder what I said that was so great. I should have recorded it and written it down,” you know because apparently there was a moment of wisdom there. Probably it was not so much what was said. It was the feelings that we communicated.
First of all you feel their pain. Secondly you accept the ambiguity of God’s purposes. Thirdly, realize that unanswered questions lead to ultimate questions. We’re going to be demonstrating that in the next message on Job and particularly in the fifth message we are going to see how that really when you begin to try to work through this whole process of trying to find out God’s ambiguous ways, what you begin to do is to come down to some very, very essential questions, namely a person’s relationship with God. For example, Job is going to ask questions like this. How can a man be right before God? Now that’s an essential question. We might not figure God out, but if we could only know how we could be right before him, why that might be part of the answer.
Job is going to ask another question that we’re going to deal with in a future message. If a man dies, shall he live again? Well that’s interesting because if the answer to that question is yes, then there’s the possibility that God someday God will make up for us in eternity future what we could not understand in this mortal life of time, and consequently what we need to do is to recognize the fact that we are led therefore to some ultimate questions. In fact, one of the most obvious purposes of suffering is that in kicking all of the props away what we find are people leaning on God. Now maybe God isn’t doing all the things that they think he should be doing. He is not answering all the prayers that they would like to see him answer, but one of the things that suffering does do is it closes our other options that we might seek God, and having been comforted of God, as the Scripture reading indicated, we then are able to comfort others.
While I was thinking of God’s comfort, I was reminded of the fact that in the upper room discourse where Jesus is talking to his disciples before he goes to heaven, he says, “When I go to heaven I am going to send the Holy Spirit,” and you know that the Greek word there for Holy Spirit is parakleto. That’s the verb form at least. It means to call along beside of, and our translators translate it in many different ways. It has many different meanings, but one of the most popular ways to translate it is to say comforter. “I am going to send you another comforter who will abide with us forever. He will guide you into all truth. He will be there.” Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you.”
What is it that you need in your particular trial today? No matter what that trial is you need two things. First, you need a friend that sticketh closer than a brother, namely Jesus Christ, because it is through Christ that we are reconciled to God. It is through Christ that we receive the other comforter. We walk through our trial with God. That’s the first thing that you need, and that’s maybe why God brought you here today, by the way, because that is the essential point that you need.
The second is you do need a human friend who knows all about you and who will stick with you. A single mother with a child on drugs and all of the things that are so difficult for people to deal with said, “I think I could make it if I had just one friend ” What she meant was a friend who would really be a friend, and that’s the way God has ordained it. He’s ordained it first of all that he would be our friend and that he would walk with us, that the Comforter would abide with us forever, and then that within the Body of Christ, within a place like Moody Church and a safe place like here where we are all sinners and we know it, and we are all hurting and we know it, we find that God leads us to others who will walk with us through that experience/ And at the end we know that someday the sun will again shine, probably in this life, but most assuredly in the life to come.
The bottom line: let us be comforted of God that we in turn might be the comforters that we should be.
Join me as we pray.
Father, we pray today that you might help us to think deeply, but to also feel deeply. And some of us have not been through the sorrows that others have been through. That’s for sure, but Lord we pray that we might be compassionate and thoughtful and that the words that we say to one another may be words of help and meaning and not condemnation and judgment. Even in this congregation today, and listening over the radio thousands of people who are hurting, help us today to meet their needs in the name of Christ, introducing them first of all to the wonderful Comforter, and then, Father, helping them bear their load. In Jesus’ name, Amen.