The Philippine Star

Out in the cold


To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understand­ing are his.

— Job 12:13 In desperatio­n, a woman called the housing assistance center where I worked. A heating problem had turned her rental home into a freezer with furniture. Panicked, she asked me how she would care for her children. I hurriedly replied with the scripted official response: “Just move into a hotel and send the landlord the bill.” She angrily hung up on me.

I knew the textbook answer to her question, but I had completely missed her heart. She wanted someone to understand her fear and desperatio­n. She needed to know she wasn’t alone. In essence, I had left her out in the cold.

After Job had lost everything, he had friends with answers but little understand­ing. Zophar told him all he needed to do was live wholeheart­edly for God. Then “life will be brighter than noonday,” he said (11:17). That counsel wasn’t well received, and Job responded with scathing sarcasm: “Wisdom will die with you!” (12:2). He knew the dissatisfy­ing taste of textbook answers to real-world problems.

It’s easy to be critical of Job’s friends for their failure to see the big picture. But how often are we too quick with answers to questions we don’t truly understand? People do want answers. But more than that, they want to know we hear and understand. They want to know we care. — Tim Gustafson

Father, help us to be a friend first before we offer advice to others. Thank You for the privilege of sharing our hearts with You in prayer. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit so that we will never be alone.

READ: Job 11:7-20 Before people want to hear what you say, they want to know that you care.

Bible in a Year: Job 20-21 and Acts 10:24-48

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