Helping the Sufferer: Giving Reassurance

In the same way that our advice may be premature, so also may our reassurance. In our efforts to assuage the suffering of our loved one or friend, we reach out by offering hope of a better future. Because we can’t stand our helplessness we try to lift their depression.

Just as giving advice can communicate that we don’t understand the depth of their emotional pain, the magnitude or significance of their loss, or how they feel, so can our reassurance. It can communicate: “I don’t want to hear any more of your suffering.” Sometimes that’s true–we do find it hard to bear. But we risk shutting off communication. That may increase our friend or love-one’s sense of isolation. We’re telling them to keep their deepest suffering to themselves.

At the end of his first efforts at comfort, Job’s colleague Bildad reassures Job of a happier future. “[God] will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy,” he says (8:21). This is not his only blunder in this chapter, but it is one we also make. He demonstrates he doesn’t want to hear any more of Job’s pain. He and the others already sat through hearing Job’s desire to die. He’s heard enough and, like the others, unloads all of his traditional wisdom strategies in order to “answer” Job.

Have you experienced a loss where a loved one tried to provide you with reassurance you found  premature? Have you offered others reassurance at a point where your friend stopped talking? or changed the subject? How did you both resolve the impasse?


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.
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3 Responses to Helping the Sufferer: Giving Reassurance

  1. Gordon Grose says:

    I’m pleased you found my blog helpful. Thanks for letting me know.
    Gordon Grose
    Friend of Job

  2. Judy says:

    I think premature assurance and giving advice or trying to fix it has been the most hurtful of all the responses to my wounds in life. It is interesting to me that Job’s friends at the first did the one of the best things I could do… sit with him, just be with him, but ended up doing all the wrong things. I am just as guilty, though. I think we all are so uncomfortable being with someone who is suffering that we are compelled to do or say something, anything to try to make it better. The problem, though, is we are not God and most times there is nothing we can do or say that will make it better. God’s name is I AM and to be Godly often simply means to be, or to be with. One of the most comforting verses about God in the Bible is “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

    • Gordon Grose says:

      Judy, Thanks for sharing your personal experience.
      FYI I sent my agent a new book proposal (Tragedy Transformed: How Job’s Recovery can Provide Hope for Yours) last month. He said my proposal was “thorough,” which I take to mean he liked it. He’ll be “shopping” it to publishers this month, wo you can be in prayer. If no publisher is interested, I’ll self-publish. I can sell as I speak. I’ve been using my Job material to teach local Sunday school classes, and build interest. March 9 I give my all-day workshop to a church in eastern Oregon.
      God bless,
      Friend of Job

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