Tongues AfireWhen have you recently endured the wound of another person’s words?
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We've Got Answers
True wisdom and power are found in
God; counsel and understanding are His
While in college, I volunteered at a center that
provided emergency housing assistance.
One winter day, a distraught woman called
to complain about her negligent landlord. She couldn’t
stay in her rental home because of severe maintenance
problems. In a panic, she asked what she could do to
care for her children in the cold weather. I gave the
standard answer, which was to move into a hotel until
the problem was resolved. Under our state’s consumer
protection laws, she could bill the landlord. But she
angrily hung up on me, believing I had failed to take her
I may have known the textbook response to that
woman’s question, but I didn’t grasp her real need.
She needed someone to comprehend her fear and
desperation. She needed to feel she was not alone in her
dilemma. I had done nothing to address her heartfelt cry.
In the Bible, Job stands as a paragon of patience. He
too had a heartfelt cry. He had lost everything in a cosmic
game no human being could comprehend (see Job 1–2).
And he had friends with thoughtless textbook answers.
“Can you solve the mysteries of God?” asked his
friend Zophar, drunk on his own self-righteousness (11:7).
“If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your
hands to Him in prayer!” (v.13). Naturally, that only
elicited a bitter retort from Job. “You people really know
everything, don’t you? And when you die, wisdom will die with you!” (12:1).
We malign Job’s friends for their failure to see the big picture. But I’m no
different. I’m quick with answers to questions I’ve never faced.
“You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers,” says an advertising campaign. For
life’s big questions, people do want and need answers. Most of all, they want to
know someone truly cares. —Tim Gustafson
Read Job 12 to see some
of Job’s honest and angry
responses to his friends.
What was Job’s ultimate
conclusion? (see ch.42).
How have you been
comforted by someone
when you were hurting?
Do you feel that you have
the answers to everyone’s
questions? How might
this be misinterpreted by
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