Job’s friends were true encouragers for one week—they sat with him; they wept with him; and most importantly, they remained silent. But once they began to speak, they became Job’s great discouragers. They responded to Job’s words, but they failed to see his pain or to recognize suffering as a potential part of God’s plan. They assumed Job’s sin, never acknowledging the uniqueness of his suffering or seeking to understand his pain.
Avoid Prepackaged Solutions
If we wish to be godly encouragers, we will not speak until we have truly listened. We will not deliver prepackaged answers. We will not pretend to know what we could not possibly know, and we will not point a finger unless it is to direct our friend to the only true source of encouragement: God Himself.
Christian encouragement does not require backslapping, positive attitudes, or pep talks. It requires presence—showing up and being quietly supportive, more with our ears and our hearts than our mouths.
Select Words Carefully
Words do have a place when we are trying to help someone else, but it is prudent to let silence and our prayers do the talking if we are not sure of what to say in a situation—they will be far more eloquent.
When friends or loved ones are facing trouble, remember:
They do not need logic; they need love.
They do not need experiences; they need encouragement.
They do not need assumptions; they need assurances.
They do not need advice; they need affirmation.
They do not need pious platitudes; they need powerful principles.
As comforters, we need to be compassionate, but we also need to be men and women of compassionate truth who avoid senseless platitudes.