Helping the Sufferer: Giving a Beatitude

When our friend opens up to us about their suffering, although we don’t intend to, we risk making their suffering worse.  We try our hardest to listen, but their experience may not fit with our preconceived ideas about how life goes or how people should respond.

Among the hurtful things we might say: deliver a “blessing.” That’s what Job’s friend Eliphaz offers him: “See how happy is the man whom God reproves; Do not reject the discipline of the Almighty” (Job 5:17). Derived from his doctrine of God’s providential control over all of life (v. 18) and leading to his premature offers of hope (vv. 19-26), Eliphaz must surely believe he’s on solid ground. He appeals to the common wisdom tradition that God our Father teaches us wisdom through our suffering. His beatitude also warns Job to back off his protest against God’s unfairness.

God may indeed use suffering to teach us many lessons through our suffering–after the fact. When our friend goes through deep waters, however, we need  to say, “I don’t know why you have to go through this, either, but I’ll walk with you through it.” Where a beatitude for suffering will probably leave our friend feeling empty, or rejected, demonstrating our care in word and deed provides the needed relief and support our friend needs. If we were the one who suffers, isn’t that what we’d want?

Can you think of a time when a friend or loved one, in a effort to be helpful, said something inadvertently hurtful? Something supportive ?

About Grose

Gordon Grose loves most to write, speak, and preach on the message of hope from the book of Job. Using drama, video, and PowerPoint, he has preached and presented this message of hope to churches around the country. Grose pastored three congregations 25 years, then served 12 years as a pastoral counselor in a Portland, Oregon counseling clinic. He now serves with Good Samaritan Counseling Services, Beaverton, OR. A graduate of Wheaton College (IL), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Brandeis University, and Boston University, he comes from a rich and varied background in theological and counseling training. In 2015, Gordon published Tragedy Transformed: How Job's Recovery Can Provide Hope For Yours, a book about turning to Job for hope after tragedy. If you have experienced life challenges or personal tragedy, visit his Transforming Tragedy ( blog to learn more. provides a sample of Gordon's speaking as well as an opportunity to purchase copies of his book.
This entry was posted in Friend of Job, The Counselor, The Sufferer. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Helping the Sufferer: Giving a Beatitude

  1. Gordon Grose says:

    I’m glad to help. I use WordPress. I hope you have a productive time blogging. Keep in touch.

  2. Gracie Thompson says:

    Good point, Gordon. Beatitudes have always been a hallmark of Jesus’ teaching and I can’t do wrong by copying His lead. Perhaps you have known deep sorrow (and I am sorry if that is so) and therefore speak from experience. No matter the load, God’s arms can carry.

  3. John Nichols says:

    Point very well taken. I have made many errors over my years as a pastor and have found people are most open when I am silent.

Comments are closed.