Miserable Comforters – Gospel in Life

Miserable Comforters

Tim Keller |  January 13, 2008

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  • Suffering
  • Hope
  • God's Love
Job 5:1-7; 6:1-10
RS 200-2


How do you bear suffering? How do you get through the inevitable suffering that will come to you?

The answer to that is comfort. In the book of Job, Job has three friends who show up and do an absolutely terrible job of comforting. Yet, even by looking at their terrible comfort, we’re going to learn something about the sources of comfort.

In this passage, let’s take a look at 1) the bad comfort, 2) the better comfort, and 3) the ultimate comfort.

The Story of Job

We all experience hard times, and the story of Job in the Bible gives us a real look at the questions that come up when we’re suffering. The two big questions we often ask are why is this happening and how can we get through it. Job’s story shows us that while comfort helps us get through tough times, it doesn’t take them away. Also, real comfort comes from sources beyond our close friends, as Job’s friends didn’t manage to make him feel better.

1. The not-so-great comfort

In the story, Eliphaz tries to comfort Job, but his approach is too simple. It fails to grasp the complexity of life and the Bible’s view of reality. The story points out that when helping someone who’s feeling down, both spiritual and physical aspects are important. It also challenges the idea that suffering is always because of our mistakes, using Joseph’s story as an example of suffering with a bigger purpose. The story stresses the need to approach others with truth and kindness, like Jesus did with Mary and Martha, showing that simply being there and showing empathy, rather than giving answers, is the best way to support someone in hard times.

2. The better comfort

Job’s battle with suffering is marked by his honesty about his feelings and his determination to maintain his relationship with God, even when it feels like God is against him. Despite his pain, he rejects ending his own life, understanding that life is not his to take, and finds comfort in knowing that he has stayed true to God’s word. This faithfulness, along with his understanding of God’s love, helps him endure his suffering and trust in God’s plan.

3. The ultimate comfort

Job’s understanding of God’s love gives him temporary comfort during his suffering. But the real comfort comes from Jesus Christ, who was the only innocent person to suffer and who perfectly followed God’s law. This allows us to be seen as good even when we make mistakes. Jesus’ embodiment of truth, tears, and suffering assures us that He is there for us, helping us trust in God even when things don’t make sense.



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