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Genesis 16:13 (New International Version)
13 She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me,"...

Job 2:13 (New International Version)
13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

The book of Job, an ancient account of the disasters that befell a man whose name has become synonymous with suffering; has much that I need to hear.

Job's friends started out by sitting silently with him for seven days and nights. The notes in my New International Version, Life Application Bible tell me that this was Jewish tradition when comforting someone in mourning; not to speak until the mourner spoke.

The notes go on, "If only they had continued to be silent," and add, "Often we feel we must say something spiritual and insightful to a hurting friend. Perhaps what he or she needs most is just our presence, showing that we care."

I can so relate to Job's three unhelpful friends. How hard it is to be silent and not to engage in assessment, judgment and advising when others are in trouble.

How easy it is to think we see clearly where others have gone wrong, and how tempting to voice our opinion.

There is danger in doing this. We are instantly prone to pride, at risk of voicing human opinion rather than godly counsel. The greatest danger is misrepresenting God to others.

In Job 42:7, God in anger says to Job's three friends,"You have not spoken of me what is right."

In Genesis 16:13, Hagar calls God, "the God who sees me." God sees and knows us inside and out. He knows us better than we know ourselves for we are so often blind to our own motivations and faults.

Matthew 7:3 (New International Version)
3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

We are personally in need of the Holy Spirit and God's Word, both of which illumine and clarify truth. How risky to think we can do that for others without knowing for sure that God is prompting us to speak.

James 1:19 (New International Version)
19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

Someone who does life coaching told me that she has the acronym WAIT on the far wall in her office. When someone comes in for a coaching session, she can see the letters on the wall behind them. The letters stand for Why Am I Talking?

It's a question I need to ask myself every day and in every conversation.


Joyful Fox said…

This is such wise counsel. So often I speak, when the best thing to do would be to listen. I like the WAIT analogy. A quick reminder.

I was also blessed by the words in your Life Application Bible on the jewish custom. It is hard to do but I think shows love. Once the 'mourner' speaks, we respond. How wise and respectful.

Beautiful post. You've taken lots of scripture and put them together in a way that really defines your topic.

Sometimes when we give advice, however well-meaning, it is confusing. The person needs to hear the still, quiet voice of God and the Holy Spirit we create static with our words.

Thanks Belinda
Anonymous said…
Dear Belinda,
Often I find myself talking too much, and/or being quick to comment or question. I am still learning the virtue in silence. I hope to be a better listener someday soon.
Thanks for the WAIT reminder.
Love Night Owl
Marilyn said…
I'm making one of those WAIT signs and finding the right place to hang it IMMEDIATELY! :-)

Thanks for the suggestion.

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